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Wreck of the Steamer 
Valencia 




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 




-:^-t. 




WRECK OPTfiE STEAME 

VALENCIA 




REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT 

OF THE FEDERAL COMMISSION OF 

INVESTIGATION 



/ /y-"^^. 



APRIL 14, 1906 




WASHINGTON : : GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : : 1906 



WRECK OF THE STEAMER 

VALENCIA 



REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT 

OF THE FEDERAL COMMISSION OF 

INVESTIGATION 



APRIL 14, 1906 



LA, J. \.o 



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]lCK.\i3./\C-\CL. 




WASHINGTON : : GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : : 1906 



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REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL COMMISSION 
OF INVESTIGATION UPON THE WRECK OF THE STEAMER 
VALENCIA. 



CHAPTER I. 

APPOINTMENT AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE COMMISSION. 

On Febnian- 7, 1906, the President issued the following order: 

TiiK White House, 
ll^ashi)igtoji, February 7, ipo6. 

Sir: You are hereby directed to instruct Lawrence O. Murray, Assist- 
ant Secretar}^ of Commerce and Labor, and Herbert Knox Smith, 
Deputy Conunissioner of Corporatious, as weh as Captain Wihiani T. 
Burwell, U. S. Nav}', who will, for this purpose, be detailed for service 
in your Department by the Secretary of the Navy, to proceed to Seattle, 
Washington, and there to make thorough and complete investigation of 
all the circumstances attending the wreck of the steamer Valencia and the 
cause or causes thereof, and any misconduct, negligence, or dereliction 
of duty on the part of anyone related thereto and having any bearing 
U]-)on the loss of life occasioned by said disaster; and also, as you may 
direct, to investigate such other matters bearing upon the safety of 
traffic in navigable waters of the United States in that vicinity and the 
effectiveness and sufficiency of the present aids to navigation along said 
waters, and to make full report thereon with reconnnendations for such 
departmental or legislative action as may be indicated by said report and 
findings. 

Ver>' truly, yours, 

Theodore Roosevelt. 

The Secretary of Commerce and Labor. 

In accordance therewith, on the same day, the Federal Commis- 
sion of Investigation upon the wreck of the steamer Valencia was 
formed by the appointment, as members of the Commission from 
the Department of Commerce and Labor, of Lawrence O. Murray, 
Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Labor, and Herbert Knox 
Smith, Deputy Commissioner of Corporations, and from the Navy 
Department of Captain William T. Burwell, LT. S. Navy, com- 
mandant of Puget Sound Navy Yard. 

3 

877580 



4 REPORT OF COMMISSION OX ''VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

Mr. ]\Iurrav was appointed chairman of the Commission and IMr. 
Smith secretary. The nature of its work was defined in the fol- 
lowing order : 

Department of Commerce and Labor, 

Office of the Secretary, 

Washington, February 7, igo6. 

Sir: Pursuant to the direction of the President, dated February 7, 
1906, you are herebj^ instructed to proceed to Seattle, Washington, at 
once, and there and in that vicinity, in company with Captain William T. 
Burwell, U. S. Navy, connnandant of Puget Sound Navy Yard, and 
Air. Herbert Knox Smith, Deputy Commissioner of Corporations, make 
thorough and complete inv^estigation of all the circumstances attending 
the wreck of the steamer Vale7icia, and to inquire into the cause or causes 
thereof and into any misconduct, negligence, or dereliction of duty on 
the part of anyone related thereto and having any bearing on the loss 
of life occasioned by said disaster. 

You will also, as your discretion dictates, take up and investigate such 
other matters bearing upon the safety of traffic upon the navigable 
waters of the United States adjoining the coast of Washington and the 
Straits of Juan de Fuca, and the entrance thereof, together with the par- 
ticular points of danger to such traffic presented by such waters, and the 
question of sufficienc}' and effectiveness of the present light-houses, fog 
signals, and life-saving stations, and of other aids to navigation along 
said waters. 

And upon all the matters so considered by you you will make full 
report, accompanying such report by reconnnendations for such depart- 
mental or legislative action as you may deem to be required by your 
findings for the better protection of life and property concerned in such 
traffic. 

Respectfully, yours, V. H. Metcalf, 

Secretary. 

To Lawrence O. Murray, 

Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Labor. 

On Februar)- 9, 1906, Messrs. Murray and Smith left Washington, 
arriving in vScattle on the e\-ening of P'ebruary 13. On Wednes- 
day, F'ebrnary 14, Captain Ihirwell joined them, and the Commission 
opened its work h\- a conference with a committee of the Seattle 
Chamber of Commerce, and upon the request of said committee 
arranged that a representative of the Chamber of Commerce should 
sit witli the said Commission for the ])urpose of aiding it. William 
H. Gorham, e.sq., attorney at law, was designated by the Chamber of 
Commerce for this purpose, and attended all the hearings of the Com- 
mission, and also acconi])anicd the Commission on its trip to the scene 
of the wreck. 

The Commission commenced taking testimony at 2 o'clock p. m. 
February 14 and carried on its work continnonsK- until i p. m. 



REPORT OF COMMISSION OX "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 5 

March i, when the Coiiiinissioii adjourned. Tlie testinion\- of two 
witnesse.s was taken later b\- Captain Burwell, after the departure 
of Messrs. Murray and Smith from Seattle, and INIr. Smith took 
the testimon\- of one witness in San Francisco on March 4. On 
Febrnary 17 the Connnission took the lig-ht-honse tender Columbine 
and proceeded down the Sound to Neah Bay, near the entrance to 
the Straits, and on the following da)-, the i8th, cruised around Cape 
Flattery, examining the coast and testing the fog signals at the 
Cape, and then proceeded to a point several miles west of Carmanah 
Light, examining the coast, and then returned to Neah Bay, where 
they spent the night of the i8th. On the 19th they inspected 
Waaddah Island, in Neah Bay, with a view to a proper location for 
a life-saving station, and then returned to Seattle. 

On February 23, after full public notice, a public hearing was 
given and opportunit)- afforded to all who desired to present 
suggestions and arguments for needed improvements in the 
nature of light-houses, fog signals, life-saving service, etc., and a 
number of individuals and persons representing organizations inter- 
ested in the traflfic of Puget Sound and the Pacific coast appeared. 
A nmnber of suggestions and recommendations were also submitted 
to the Commission iii the form of written memoranda. 

The hearings of the Commission for the first two days were held 
in a room pro\-ided by the district attorney in a building occupied 
bv the Federal authorities, and thereafter Hon. Cornelius H. Han- 
ford, judge of the United States District Court, ver\- courteously 
allowed the Commission the use of his court room, where all subse- 
quent hearings were held. All hearings and the taking of testi- 
mony were public, and were attended by a considerable number of 
citizens, various commercial organizations deputing representatives 
to be present. Sixty witnesses were examined. The testimony in 
the matter covered about 1,860 typewritten pages and included more 
than 30 exhibits. 

The Cotnmission also commenced a reinspection of the American 
steamers coming into Puget Sound. P'or that purpose Lieutenant- 
Commander Robert E. Coontz, U. S. Navy, Lieutenant Arthur 
Crenshaw, U. S. Na\\-, and Carpenter William F. Hamberger. 
U. S. Navy, were detailed h\ the Secretary of the Nav>- with instruc- 
tions to report the result of the reinspection to the Commission. 

The Commission desires to express its high appreciation of the 
exceptional courtesy and good will displayed toward it by the 



O REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

citizens of Seattle and adjoining towns, and especially the great 
assistance rendered to it by William H. Gorham, esq., of Seattle, 
thronghont the extent of its work ; also the assistance of Mr. Josiah 
Collins, of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and the courtesy of 
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which furnished the Commission with 
enlarged copies of a number of valuable photographs taken by one 
of its staff near the scene of the wreck and shortly after its occurrence. 
In general, the Commission met with hearty cooperation from all 
persons, and many witnesses appeared at the request of the Commis- 
sion at considerable inconvenience to themselves. Siibstantially all 
the survivors of the wreck — officers, crew, and passengers — were 
examined (except a few who had departed for their homes in distant 
places before the arrival of the Commission), and also a number of 
gentlemen expert in questions of navigation and various persons who 
were present in sundry capacities upon the vessels that went to the 
rescue of the Valencia after the wreck ; so that the Commission feels 
that it has in its possession practically all the essential facts that in 
any way bear upon the subject-matter of its inquin,-. The Commis- 
sion was wholly without compulsory power to compel the attend- 
ance of witnesses and without funds to remunerate them, but so 
general was the public cooperation in the matter that these limita- 
tions were not serious. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE VALENCIA AND HER OWNERS. 

The passenger steamer Valencia^ owned by the Pacific Coast Com- 
pany, was bnilt in 1882 by Cramps in Philadelphia. She was reg- 
istered as of the port of New York, but for man\- years had engaged 
exchisivel)- in the Pacific coast trade. Her allowed ronte was the 
Pacific Ocean, coast, and Bering Sea. She was licensed to carr}' 
286 passengers. Master, Oscar M. Johnson. Her last annnal inspec- 
tion was on April 27, 1905, at Seattle. In November, 1905, she was 
reinspected, and on January 3, 1906, she was again specially rein- 
spected at San Francisco. 

Though owned b}- the Pacific Coast Company, she was operated 
by a subsidiary corporation thereof, the Pacific Coast Steamship 
Company, as were all the fleet controlled by the said Pacific Coast 
Company. 

The Pacijic Coast Company. — This is the parent company and 
was organized in New Jersey in 1898. As testified to by the manager 
of the company, its capitalization is $1,000,000 first preferred stock, 
$5,000,000 second preferred stock, $7,000,000 common stock, and 
$5,000,000 in bonds. The said company owned at the time of 
the disaster all the stock and bonds in certain subsidiary companies, 
as follows: Pacific Coast Steamship Company, Pacific Coast Rail- 
way Company, and the Columbia and Puget Sound Railway 
Company ; also various coal mines, wharves, real estate, lumber 
yards, etc., situated in vSeattle, central California, Juneau, vSkag- 
way, and elsewhere. The various vessels comprising the entire 
fleet of the Pacific Coast Company and its constituent companies 
were all operated by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company as agent. 
The said parent company has paid dividends since 1900, at first 4 
per cent, then 5 per cent, and of late years 6 per cent. 

The Pacific Coast Steainship Company. — This is a California cor- 
poration with capital stock of $2,000,000, owned by the Pacific 
Coast Companv since 1898. It pa)s over its entire surplus to the 
Pacific Coast Company as dividends and has earned a surplus since 
1897 or 1898. J. C. Ford is president of said company and W. E. 
Pearce its manager. 



8 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

The entire fleet thus controlled by the Pacific Coast Company, 
but operated by the Pacific Coast Steamship Compan}-, is composed 
of about twenty vessels, engaged in freight and passenger business 
along the coast from southern California to points in Alaska. 
About two-thirds of the entire business of their coast traffic is in 
freight and the other third in passenger business. A regular line 
of steamers is run by the company between San Francisco, Vic- 
toria, and Seattle. The Valencia was not one of the steamers regu- 
larl}' engaged on this run, but had been recently placed on the run 
from San Francisco to Seattle to take the place of one of the regu- 
lar vessels, the Piiebla^ laid up for repairs, and had just made one 
round trip thereon previous to the wreck. 

DESCRIPTION OF VESSEL. 

The Valencia was an iron, single-screw, steam-steering, steam 
vessel; length 252 feet, beam 34 feet, draft 19 feet without load. 
She had 3 cargo holds, 4 water-tight metal bulkheads, 2 boilers, 
with 6 furnaces altogether, and was allowed a steam pressure of 100 
pounds. She was equipped with 6 lifeboats and i working boat, 
with a total carrying capacity of 181 persons (each lifeboat being 
swung on davits), and 3 life rafts, with a total carrying capacity of 
44 persons. Two of these rafts were of tule, a buoyant Californian 
reed. She had 368 life-preservers, 315 of which were of tule and 
the rest of cork; a L\lc line-firing gun of the standard pattern, with 
1,500 feet of line; 4 anchors, with 90 fathoms of chain for each, and 
was otherwise equipped as the law and regulations required. The 
vessel was valued at about $175,000, exclusive of cargo. 

She had three decks — a saloon deck, mostly open to the weather; 
below that the main deck, and below that the lower deck. Impo.sed 
upon the saloon deck were two series of cabins, forming houses. On 
top of the after series of cabins, known as the "after-house," was a 
hurricane deck, and on top of the forward series of cabins a so-called 
"fiddler's deck." The lifeboats in question were carried three on 
each side, the four forward ones on a lc\cl with the fiddler's deck 
and the two rear ones on toj) of the after-house on the hurricane 
deck. The life rafts were also on the said hurricane deck, as was the 
working boat. The l)()ats were numbered as follows: Nos. i, 3) 5, 
and 7 were on the starboard side, counting from forward; Nos. 2, 4, 
and 6 were on the port side, counting from forward; No. 7 was the 
working boat, which was carried on the starboard side near No. 5. 

The pilot house was impo.sed on the saloon deck at the front of 



REPORT OK COMMISSION o.N ''VALEN'CIA" DISASTER. 9 

the forward series of cabins. Just aft of tlie pilot house, on a level 
witli its roof, was the brid«^^e, and just aft of the l)ridf^e, and on the 
same level, was the chart house, the ])rido;e beinj^- alxjut 90 to 100 
feet from the bow. 

The speed of the ves.sel was about 1 1 knots. 

She carried on this trip i master, i first officer, 3 mates, 4 enj^n- 
neers, and a crew as follows: In the deck department, i boatswain, 
I carpenter, 4 quartermasters, 8 .seamen, i watchman, and i boy, 
makino;^ inclusive of tlie 5 deck officers, 21 ; in the en«-ineer's depart- 
ment, 6 firemen, 3 oilers, and 3 coal passers, makino, inclu.sive 
of the 4 enjrineer officers, 16; in the steward's department, 3 stewards, 
I stewardess, 4 cooks, 2 pantrymen, i barkeeper, i porter, 10 wait- 
ers, and 3 me.ssmen, making- a total of 25, and in the purser's depart- 
ment, I ])urser and 2 freight clerks, making a total of 3. A total 
crew list of 65. 

Inasmuch as the passenger list for this trip is not entireh- accu- 
rate, and the bodies of many of the victims were never found, and 
man\- of tho.se found were incapable of identification, an exact 
enumeration of the personnel is not possible. The fig-ures given 
below are, however, sub.stantially correct and can not differ by more 
than two or three from the actual facts. 

When the I 'alcncia left San Franci.sco on the trip on which she 
was wrecked, she carried 46 first-cla.ss passengers and 62 .second- 
class pas.sengers. It appears that tliere were on the ve.s.sel i ; women 
in all, and a few children. 

Of the total officers and crew of 65, 40 were lost and 25 sa\ed. 
Of the total pa.s.senger list of 108, 96 w^ere lost and 12 .saved. The 
ratio of pa.ssengers lost to number of passengers was therefore 88 
per cent, and of crew lost to number of crew 61 per cent. 

In all, of the total ship's company- of 173, 136 were lost (a per- 
centage of 78) and 2)1 saved. All the women and children peri.shed. 



CHAPTER III. 

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF VOYAGE. 

The Valencia left her dock at San Francisco at 11.20 a. m. Satur- 
day, January 20, 1906, bound for Victoria, B. C, and Seattle. She 
proceeded up the coast on her usual route, keeping a course gener- 
alh' parallel to the line of the coast and within from 5 to 20 miles 
thereof, at various points, intending, when she reached Cape Flattery, 
to turn in around said cape to Puget Sound and proceed down that 
Sound to her point of destination. Cape Flattery, where she would 
have made the turn to the east, is about 667 miles from the entrance 
to the Golden Gate and San Francisco Harbor. Leaving San Fran- 
cisco at the time she did, she would, in the ordinary course of events, 
have reached Cape Flatter}' at the entrance to the Straits some time 
within a few hours before or after midnight Monday, the third day. 

She proceeded up the coast without especial incident, and early 
Sunday morning passed Cape Mendocino, about 190 miles north of 
San Francisco, which cape and the light thereon were the last land 
and light that were clearly seen by the Valencia until she went 
ashore. From that point the weather was hazy, and neither by 
night nor day did she see any lights thereafter or hear any fog 
signals. 

Keeping her course almost entireh- by compass and dead reckon- 
ing by the log, she failed to locate correctly her position in relation 
to Cape Flattery, missed the entrance to the Straits and Puget 
vSound, and went ashore at about 11.50 p. m. Monday, January 
22, on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. It appeared 
that slic fir.st struck a rock or ledge a few hundred yards offshore, 
where she hung for a few minutes, and during these few minutes 
the vessel turned upon this rock as a pivot, and then, coming o£F, 
drifted or was driven inshore so that in her final berth she lay at 
substantially right angles to the shore line, with her bow heading 
out to sea and her stern not over a hundred yards from the cliff 
whicli formed the shore line. She remained in that position with 
life on board her until Wednesda}' noon or i o'clock p. m., January 
24, breaking up gradually up to that time, and then her upper 
works went to pieces completely, so as to be wholly submerged 

except for her two masts and the tops of her boilers, and so as to be 
10 



REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. II 

entirely untenable for luinian life, except for a few people in the 
ringing. During this period, from Monday night to Wednesday 
noon, varions attempts were made, both b)- the ship's company and 
by ontside parties, to rescue those on board, as will later be set forth 
in detail. 

The wind was variable during her voyage, but was of considerable 
strength from the southeast when she struck and for two days there- 
after, and the sea was fairly heavy. The weather was cold and 
wet. The coast line where the Valencia lay is substantially a con- 
tinuous rock cliff, rising almost sheer from the water, about loo feet 
in hei"-ht, covered with trees and beaten bv a verv heav\' surf. 
The exact location was about midway between Cape Beale, 9^ 
miles to the west, and Carmanah Light, 12 miles to the east, these 
being the two nearest lights and the nearest inhabited places except 
the small Indian village Clo-oose. 

FIRST PERIOD— DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF NAVIGATION OF 

THE VESSEL. 

The details of the na\agation of the vessel from the time she 
left vSan Francisco to the time she struck have been gathered by 
the Commission mainly from the testimou}- of Mr. Peterson, the 
second officer of the Wilencia^ all the log books having been lost and 
Mr. Peterson being the onlv surviving deck officer. His testimonv 
as to soundings was corroborated substantially by the four seamen 
who took the soundings, and so far as it is possible to check his 
testimony as to distances and courses it appears to be exceptionally 
accurate. Mr. Peterson had made this trip something over a hundred 
times. 

The facts relating to the navigation as thus gathered are as fol- 
lows : From San Francisco to Cape Mendocino the trip was made 
on the usual course and mostly in sight of land, the weather being 
fairly clear. Cape Mendocino was reached about half past 5 Sunday 
morning and was passed at a distance of 10 miles offshore. This cape 
forms a point where the regular coasting course turns, and it is usual 
for vessels making this trip to lay a course substautialh' without 
variation from this point nearly to Umatilla Light-ship, which is only 
14 miles south of the entrance to Puget Sound and is distant from 
Cape Mendocino about 463 miles. Having thus passed Cape 
Mendocino the J^alencia laid a coiirse substantially north 20° west, 
magnetic, and maintained this course until the following night, 
Monday, 9 p. m. Mr. Peterson testified that the course of north 18° 
west actually indicated b}' the ship's compass was equivalent to a 



12 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

real compass course of north 20° west, showing a westerly deviation 
of 2° in the J'a/cncia's compass. From Cape Mendocino until the 
vessel struck no land or lights were seen nor any fog signals heard 
except the signals blown by the vessel herself. 

An entr\- was made in the log book by the captain that Cape 
Blanco had been passed at 5.20 p. m. Sunday, log showing 335 
miles from Golden Gate, but Mr. Peterson was of the opinion that 
this entry was largeh- conjectural, as he did not find that anyone 
had actually seen Cape Blanco. On Sunday afternoon about 3 
o'clock, before passing Cape Blanco, the wind, which had been 
from the north, had become a strong breeze from the southeast, and 
was maintained in this direction during the rest of the voyage. 
Althoiigh no "point of departure" had been gained north of Cape 
Mendocino, which was seen earh' Sunday morning, and no land or 
lights had been observed, the captain did not begin soundings until 
6 o'clock Monday evening, and from that time and until half past 9 
that evening soundings were taken every half hour, but no bottom 
was found, and the records simply show that at each cast 240 
fathoms of wire had been paid out. This would indicate, at the 
speed the vessel was going and allowing for the slant of the wire, 
that she was in at least from 80 to 100 fathoms of water. 

At 9 p. m. on Monday the captain evidently felt that he should 
be nearing the Umatilla Light-ship. It is the usual custom of nav- 
igators on this route to pick up this light-ship, either by sight or by 
soundings, and use that point as a point of departure for Cape Flat- 
tery, which is 14 miles farther north. It seems probable that Cap- 
tain Johnson was estimating his position by the points where he 
thoueht the vessel ou";ht to be at o-iven times in her schedule. At 
9 o'clock Mondav night the log showed that the vessel had run 652 
miles, which would have brought her, if not influenced by winds or 
current, sul)stantially opposite Umatilla Light-ship; but for some 
reason, wholly unexplained, Captain Johnson was of the opinion, as 
he .stated to Mr. Peterson, that the log was "overrunning" — that is, 
that the vessel was not going as fast as the log indicated. 

His phrase was that "the log overruns 6 per cent." In other 
words, if the log showed on Monday at 9 ]). m. a distance of 652 miles 
he thought it was in excess b)- 40 miles and the vessel had actually 
covered onl}- 612 miles oxer the ground, a distance which would 
have placed the vessel about 40 miles .south of Umatilla Light-ship 
at 9 o'clock Monday night. As near as can be gathered this was 
tlic- belief on which Captain John.son acted, inasmuch as at that 
time lie tunud in eastward toward the coast, and it is, as a matter 



KI'.l'ORT OF COMMISSION ON " \'A I.I'.NCIA" DISASTKK. I3 

of fact, the custom of masters, wlien they are unable to see the land 
or H(^hts on this run, to endeavor to i)ick u]) a peculiar line of 
sonndin,^s which extend al)()nt 40 miles south of rmatilla Li<j;-ht- 
shi]) and which, if .gotten, indicate absolutel\- the position of the 
vessel, as such sonndinirs can not be obtained anywhere else on 
that run. 

It should be stated at this jioint that Captain b)hnson's assump- 
tion that the log^ had overrun was a fatally mistaken one, and that on 
the other hand, as a matter of fact, the lo<»- ])robably underran, and 
while it showed at 9 o'clock Monday evening- a distance run of 652 
miles the stronj:^ current toward the northward which prevails at 
this season of the >ear, and which of course was not registered by 
the log, had given additional speed to the vessel, and instead of 
being, at 9 o'clock, 40 miles south of l^matilla, as the captain 
thought, she was probably at least opposite to or north of that point. 

Acting, however, on his aforesaid belief. Captain Johnson, at 9 
o'clock Monday evening, turned eastward toward the coast, chang- 
ino- his course from north 20° west to north one-half east and sound- 
ing as he went, in order to pick up the shore. These courses are 
" magnetic, " as are all others given herein. It will be remembered 
that the last soundings which he got previous to 9 o'clock gave no 
bottom. At 9.30 o'clock, while still maintaining a course of north 
one-half east, he got a sounding with the tubes (which gives an 
absolutely accurate depth) of 80 fathoms. The next sounding, at 10 
o'clock, was 60 fathoms. At this point he again changed his course 
ver\- slightly toward the westward and made a course of north three- 
cpiarters west. As Mr. Peterson says, this is the usual course taken 
from Umatilla Light to Cape Flattery Light, which marks the 
entrance to the Sound. It seems, therefore, that the only explana- 
tion for this last change in course, north three-quarters west, is that 
Captain Johnson assumed that at 10 o'clock he was somewhere near 
Umatilla Light-ship. 

Proceeding on the last course, at 10.30 p. m. he got a sounding of 
56 to 60 fathoms; at 10.45, ^o fathoms; at 11, 60 fathoms; at 
11.15, 40 fathoms, and at 11.35, 30 fathoms, all of these being a 
character of soundings that should have put him intensely on his 
guard, as they were not characteristic of the run from Umatilla to 
Cape Flattery. Evidently Captain Johnson felt this, for at 11.35 
he again changed his course sharply toward the west and away 
from the coast, taking a course of north 35° west. A sounding at 
11.45 Rfive 24 fathoms. This change in course was taken too late, 



14 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

however, as within ten or fifteen minutes Mr. Peterson, who was on 
the bridge, saw a dark object ahead, and both he and the captain 
ordered the wheel hard to starboard, throwing the vessel's head to the 
west, and within two or three minutes thereafter she struck the rock. 

It is practically impossible to lay out accurately the course of the 
Valencia upon the chart. We have fairly reliable evidence as to 
compass couises and soundings and log readings-, but both the 
compass courses and the log readings, especially the latter, might be 
and doubtless were invalidated by the presence of a strong current 
toward the northward from an unknown distance down the coast, 
coupled with a strong southeast wind, the sea striking the vessel on 
its starboard quarter and driving her forward and somewhat west- 
ward out of her course, and finally, after passing Cape Flattery and 
when off the mouth of the Straits, by the existence of additional 
strong currents issuing from the mouth of the Straits and running 
along westward and northward parallel with the shore of Vancouver 
Island. 

The pilot chart of the North Pacific Ocean for January, 1906, 
shows currents running northward close along the coast from Cape 
Blanco over the entire course of the Valencia of from i to 3 knots 
an hour. No such chart was on board the Valencia^ nor does it 
appear that Captain Johnson or au)- of his officers made any allow- 
ance for such current. This failure to allow for this so-called 
"inshore current" proceeding northward is the most unexplainable 
fact encountered by the Commission. It appears that most masters 
are perfectly well aware of the existence of this current under normal 
conditions in the winter, and that while this current is erratic and 
occasionally ceases entirely, and sometimes is even reversed and 
proceeds southward, nevertheless its average course is northward 
and of considerable strength, and its direction and force is sufficiently 
well known so that most masters are on their g-uard agfainst it. It 
is very hard to say, therefore, how Captain Johnson could have 
assumed that his log was overrunning 6 per cent. It is obvious that 
if the vessel was in a current proceeding in the same direction as the 
course of the vessel the log would not ''overrun," but would "under- 
run," i. e., would fail to register the entire progress of the vessel 
over the ground, as the log could only register the progress of the 
ves.sel through the water, and the water itself, in the shape of this 
inshore current, was proceeding northward. 

Wliatever may be the explanation for Captain Johnson's mistake, 
however, the fact that he made this mistake in regard to the current 



REPORT OF COMMISSION OX "VALKNCIA" DISASTKR. 1 5 

is the fniidainental cause of the disaster, as it clearly appears that 
when the vessel struck she was at least 30 miles farther advanced 
to the northward than Captain Johnson supposed she was, and this 
discrepancy was almost certainly due to his failure to allow for the 
current and also for the following wind. 

The steamer Edith^ coming up substantially the same course a 
few hours later than the / 'aloicia on the same day, had a quite simi- 
lar experience with an unusual northward current, and very nearly 
ran ashore within a short distance of the place where the Valencia 
struck. The difference in the results to the two vessels, one of 
which was wrecked and the other saved, was due to the action of the 
mastei' of the Edith, who, when he found he was out of his course 
and was not certain where he was, turned sharph' out to sea and 
cruised about until he was able to locate his position. 

Such action Captain Johnson failed to take, and upon his improper 
navigation must rest the primary responsibilit}- for the disaster. 

Only one explanation has occurred to the Commission for the fail- 
ure of Captain Johnson to allow for the northward set of the current. 
It appears that while this current is northward in the winter these 
conditions are more or less reversed in the summer, and the current 
either becomes of no importance or actually turns toward the south- 
ward under the influence of a different class of winds. Captain 
Johnson's experience on this particular run commenced substantially 
in ^lay, 1905, so that he had had more experience up to the time of 
the wreck with the summer conditions than with the winter condi- 
tions. He ma)' have confused the two and may have been calcula- 
ting on the current going southward, as would be the case in summer. 
It certainly appears that he had some such idea fixed in his mind to 
such an extent that he even disregarded tlie evidence of his own log 
when it was plain at certain points that the log was not overrun- 
ning. For instance, the actual distance from the entrance of San 
Francisco Harbor to Cape ^Mendocino is 189 miles, and the log 
showed exactly this distance, 189, when they passed Cape Alendo- 
cino. Furthermore, it also appears that there was an entry in the 
log book that they had passed Cape Blanco, and the log at that 
time showed 2^:2^=^ miles, when the actual distance is i^^)^ and this 
was at a time when the wind was against them. Both of these 
facts showed clearh- that the log at the time the>' passed Cape 
Blanco was not overrunning at all, but was substantially correct. 

The supposed speed of the Valencia was about ii knots an 
hour, but it appears from various facts that during this trip she was 



1 6 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

making more than that. Her rnn from the Golden Gate to Cape 
Mendocino and Cape Blanco was made at an average rate of abont 
I'i/i knots an hour. Her average rate for the entire run till the time 
she struck was at the rate of ii )^ knots an hour, and in this period 
must be included a considerable length of time when she was run- 
ning at half speed or less, so that when going at full speed that trip 
it is safe to say that she was making over the ground at least 12 
knots an hour. 

It seems probable from the course made b\- Captain Johnson that 
he was, however, actually calculating on an overrun of the log of 
about 6 per cent. Both Peterson and the fourth mate apparently 
had doubts about this assumption, and Peterson suggested to the 
captain that possibly the log was not overrunning, but was assured 
that it was. Evidently, however, nobody on the vessel supposed 
they were as far north as they were, because it was not until at least 
a day after they had struck the shore of Vancouver Island that any- 
one (and then only those who got ashore) knew that they were on 
Vancouver Island, and the impression of the captain and the officers 
and crew was that the}- were somewhere on the American shore 
south of Cape Flattery, and their actions after they struck all bear 
out this impression. 

It appears from the evidence that there was a lookout, or station 
man, on duty in the bow of the ship at this time. This man's testi- 
mony can not be had, as he is dead. Mr. Peterson, however, says 
that this lookout ga\-e no warning of the approach of land and did 
not call out at all, and this was probably the fact. The place where 
the lookout stood was about 100 feet forward of the bridge, where the 
captain and the first officer were. It would be hard to distinguish 
the lookout from the bridge on a night as dark as that on which the 
Valencia struck. Mr. Peterson thinks he saw him moving about, 
but is not .sure. It is certainly singular that this lookout, whose 
.sole business it was to keep watch ahead, should not have reported 
^•'"'l ;'l'^ ;id. It appears, however, that through a wholly improper 
arrangement of watches this lookout had been on duty since 6 o'clock 
that evening, and liad Ik-cu there nearly six hours at the time the 
ves.sel struck. He would have gone off duty at 12 o'clock and been 
relieved by the other station man. 

Tliis lookout is .said to liave been a good man — young, active, and 
faithful— but the Connnission is firmly of the ojiiniou that no man, 
however good, sliould be ke])t on lookout duty for six hours continu- 
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REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DLSASTER. 1 7 

man under such continued strain might easily fall asleep or half 
isleep so as to be useless as a lookout, and e\cn if he were not asleep 
it is a matter of common knowledge that such long continued atten- 
tion will dull the faculties so that a man would be much less quick 
and attentive than a fresh man. The Connnission, therefore, is 
obliged to express its strong disapproval of any system which 
requires a man to maintain lookout duty for any such period of time 
as six hours, and it is believed that such system in this case was 
responsible for the fact that land was not reported by the lookout. 
25639—06 2 



CHAPTER IV. 

SECOND PERIOD— AFTER THE VESSEL STRUCK AND BEFORE THE 
ARRIVAL OF THE RESCUE FLEET. 

As soon as the vessel struck, or within a few minutes thereafter, 
soundings were taken in the bilges of the middle compartment 
w^hich showed, first i foot of water, then 2 feet, and then 6 feet, all 
within a period of five or six minutes. These soundings were 
reported to the captain, who was still on the bridge, and he evidently 
came to the conclusion that the vessel would sink and must be 
beached, and he therefore informed Peterson that he w'as going to 
beach her. The engines were started full speed astern and the 
vessel was beached stern foremost, as previoush^ stated. 

The exact location where the \essel struck is at a point substan- 
tially 22 miles from Cape Flatter}-, northwest three-quarters west, 
magnetic, 12 miles northwest along the coast from Carmanah Light 
and 9 yi miles southeast along the coast from Cape Beale Light. The 
location of the wreck is indicated on Plate I. The coast at this point 
is precipitous and rock)-, as appears by Plate II, and the interior in this 
vicinity appears to be wholly uninhabited, nor is there any method 
of communication or travel in either direction, except a telegraph 
and telephone line strung on trees running from Cape Beale on the 
west to Carmanah Light on the east and connected at occasional 
intervals with small huts known as " linemen's huts," apparently 
for the convenience of the linemen whose duty it is to keej) this 
line in order. No trail accompanied the telegraph wire, except so 
far as its direction was marked bv occasional blazes on the trees. 
The forest and vegetation is extremely dense, and in places almost 
imjK-netrablc except b)- chopping a path. A number of small 
streams and rivers go into the sea along this strip of coast, and these 
streams are often impassable in raiu)- weather. Only in a \-ery few 
places is it po.ssible to ])roceed along the shore in front of the line 
of bluffs, and then only at low water. Much of the travel along 
this stri]) of coast mu.st be inland, back of tliis line of bluffs. 

Taken as a whole, it would be hard to find a place so comparativeh- 
near to civilization and yet practically so inaccessible and isolated 
as the place where the / 'alencia went ashore. 




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REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 19 

Captain Jolmson, however, was correct in his belief that the vessel 
mnst be beached, as the filling- of any one of the three large cargo 
holds would probably have served to sink her. His next order was to 
lower the boats to the saloon rail and lash them there. This order 
was given at substantially the same time he decided to beach the 
vessel. Based upon this order there then followed a complete and 
disastrous failure in the use of the boats. It appears that for some 
reason no boat drill had been held on board the l^alc/nia this trip, 
it being apparently the intention of the captain to have his drill after 
getting into Puget Sound. ' Out of the 65 members of the officers 
and crew onh- 32 had been on the J 'aloicia on the previous trip, and 
while a fire drill had been held on the previous trip only two of her 
six lifeboats had been swung out and lowered in that drill, with the 
result that such drill was incomplete both as to the trying of the 
boats and tackle and in giving practice to only two out of six boat 
crews. There was, therefore, onh- an incomplete and partial drill 
on the previous trip of the l^alcncia and no drill at all on the trip 
when she was wrecked. Many of the crew did not know to which 
boat the}' were assigned. 

The natural consequences followed when the captain gave the 
order to lower the boats. The exact occurrences are difficult to 
ascertain, inasmuch as the electric lights went out shortly after the 
vessel struck, and in the confusion, darkness, wind, and rain the 
surviving witnesses naturallv were not clear as to exactlv where 
they were or what happened. In general, however, certain facts 
appear. The order of the captain was incompletely carried out and 
he himself did not see to its execution, and the first officer, who was 
with him at the time, also failed to see to its execution. j\Iore than 
half of the seamen of the crew, men best fitted to handle the boats, 
for some reason stayed below awaiting orders until several of the 
boats had been lowered or capsized. 

Meantime others of the crew — firemen, waiters, etc. — with the aid 
of passengers lowered the boats to the saloon rail (except No. 5, 
which was not swung out at all that night), but failed to lash the 
boats there, and then when the passengers got into the boats, through 
misunderstanding of orders, failure of tackle, or possibly the cutting 
of the falls h\ excited persons, three of the boats were cockbilled ; 
that is, one end was dropped suddenly before the other, and all the 
passengers in these boats were spilled into the sea and only i res- 
cued. Two other boats were successfully lowered and launched, 
but having only one or two of the crew in each of them they were 



20 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

practically helpless and were quickly turned broadside to the waves 
and capsized, and out of probably 20 or 30 occupants only 9 got 
ashore from these two boats. 

There is also some evidence to the effect that a third boat was 
successfully launched at this time, but if so she probably capsized 
later, as no one in her survived and her fate is unknown. One raft 
also slid overboard. 

The net result of the handlinor of the boats on the nio-ht of the 
disaster was that not over a dozen people got ashore alive. Prob- 
ably from 40 to 60 were drowned in the various accidents to the 
boats and onh- one boat was left on the vessel. It seems fairly 
clear from the experience the next morning, when this last remain- 
ing boat went out successfully through the siu'f with compara- 
tively little difficulty, that Mr. Peterson is correct when he says 
that if the boats had not been launched at all until the next morn- 
ing the}' then could have gone out successfully and saved each 
a reasonable boat load of passengers. This terrible failure in the 
use of the boat equipment was due, in part, to lack of proper drill 
and in part to the order of the captain, by which the boats were 
lowered to the rail where the passengers could get into them with- 
out proper crews at the boats to see that the boats were protected 
from the inrush of passengers and that they were properly launched 
and manned. 

It is probable that after the failure of the boats, all of which must 
have occurred inside of half an hour from the time the vessel struck, 
there were left on board about 90 to no persons. The vessel was 
substantially in darkness after the electric lights went out, except 
for two or three small hand lamps. The passengers at first congre- 
gated mainl)- in the dining saloon and were there given a little food, 
though most of the supplies had by that time become submerged 
and were inaccessible in the lower part of the vessel. By the time 
the morning of Tuesday came, however, the water had begun to 
come into this saloon, and the passengers went either on top of the 
hurricane deck or into the staterooms on the saloon deck ; evidently 
the majority of llnni went on the hurricane deck. 

Throughout the entire night there appears to have been little or 
no panic on the ])art of the passengers after the first natural alarm 
when the ves.sel struck, and c\en this first alarm does not seem to 
have taken the shape of an unreasoning or uncontrollable panic. 
It is true that many of the passengers hastened to get into the boats, 
but this was only natural, inasmuch as the boats had been lowered 



REPORT OF COMMISSION OX '' \A I.I'.XCIA" DISASTI'.R. 21 

to the saloon rail apparenth- for that j)iirpose and there was no one 
there to restrain thcin. They seem to ha\-e been reasonable and 
coniparativeh- cool, and conld have been easily controlled by efficient 
officers and crew, trained nnder proper boat drills. 

Several times dnrinj;- the ni_i»-ht rockets and flares were set off by 
way of distress signals and to enable the officers to get a view of the 
coast line, which was ver}- indistinct. In the course of some of 
these operations the captain had his right hand broken and practi- 
cally disabled b\- an exploding rocket. 

Along- toward Tuesda^• morning it was evident that the vessel was 
beginning to break np. The hull remained comparatively intact, 
but the forward house, to wit, the pilot house, chart house, and 
liridofc, beofan to g-o, and the sea coming: in over the bow was 
gradually eating away the upper works of the vessel. Early Tues- 
day morning, probably between 8 and 9 o'clock, the captain called 
for a volunteer crew to take the last remaining boat and make an 
attempt to follow up the coast and land a crew from the boat so as 
to come back along the shore and take a line to be shot from the 
vessel. 

A crew of se\en volunteered in charge of McCarthy, the boat- 
swain, and No. 5 boat was lowered on the starboard side of the ves- 
sel, made its way out through the breakers, and proceeded westward 
along the shore looking for a place on which to land. The testimony 
of those who watched this boat go out, and also of those in the boat, 
seems to indicate that comparatively little difficulty was encountered 
in getting away. They shipped ver\- little water, not enough to 
require bailing, and wdiile hard pulling w^as necessary they did not 
seem to have been in any serious danger at any time, and the}- crossed 
the line of breakers possibly 100 yards out beyond the bow of the 
vessel and then turned and proceeded nearly in the trough of the 
sea westward and with very little trouble up the coast, occasionalh' 
having to turn the bow' of the boat to an exceptionally large incom- 
ing sea. 

After the breakers w^ere passed the boatswain was able to steer 
with the rudder. This boat proceeded along the shore without find- 
ing a place to land until they reached what is known as Seabird 
Rocks, near the entrance to Pachena Ba>-, and finally made a land- 
ings on the westward shore of Pachena Ba\- near its mouth on a short 
strip of beach, without losing any life, and about 7 miles north- 
west of the wreck. They reached this point about 1 2 or i o'clock 
Tuesday afternoon. 



22 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

Up to this point apparently every one on the vessel had believed 
that she was on the Washington coast south of Cape Flatter}'. But 
this volunteer crew after landing began looking for a trail, and 
shortly saw on the beach a sign reading "Three miles to Cape 
Beale." This was their first definite knowledge that they were on 
the shore of Vancouver Island. They found this trail leading 
toward Cape Beale and decided to follow it westward and not to 
attempt to go back to the wreck overland, becatise there appeared to 
be no feasible way of getting back, the telegraph line running back 
through the impenetrable woods, and the way along shore being 
barred by high cliffs. They therefore proceeded in the other direc- 
tion westward and arrived at Cape Beale light-house at 3 o'clock 
Tuesday afternoon, and there informed the keeper about the wreck 
and its location and condition as near as they could, and this infor- 
mation was at once telegraphed to Bamfield Creek, a few miles 
farther west. The news of the wreck had already been received at 
Bamfield through the efforts of the other part}- described hereafter. 

Meantime, to return to the events on the T ^alencia on Monday 
night, it will be remembered that two boats succeeded in getting 
away within a few moments after the vessel struck, but subse- 
quently capsized, and 9 of the occupants reached the shore in safety. 
After being thrown upon the rocks b}- the sea, the members of this 
shore party managed to crawl up out of the reach of the water and 
spent the night on the rocks at a place probably not over 500 yards 
westward along the shore from the Valencia^ but somewhat around a 
little point. The shore at this place was so precipitous and rocky 
that they did not venture to attempt to ascend it in the darkness. 

As soon as it began to grow light a way was found up the side 
of the cliff, and the party, after considerable difficulty, reached the 
t(jp and there came across the telegraph line, already mentioned, 
running from Cape Beale to Carmanah. Acting still under the im- 
pression that this was the American shore and that they were not 
far from Cape Flattery, this party decided to turn to the west and 
reach Cape Flattery, as they supposed, and summon assistance. 

When this shore ]xirt\- came to this decision and turned to the 
west it nnist be said that 1)v far the best chance for rescuincr the 
remaining survivors on the I'alcncia vanished. This party when it 
came to this decision was not more than half a mile, and probably 
nnich less, from the top of the cliff directK' back of the stern of the 
/ 'alciicia. Tlie distance between the stern of the Valencia and the 
top of this cliff was certainly not over 250 feet. As it subsequently 
appeared, it was easily possible to fire a line across this gap from the 



REPORT OF COMMISSION OX "VAI.IvNCIA' DISASTER. 23 

vessel to the top of the cliff. Had this shore part\- tlioujj^ht of this 
possibilit)- and turned in llie other direction, toward tlic ea.st, and 
had come out on the top of the cliff back of the J'nlcncia^ they would 
unquestionably have been there to receive the line which, as a matter 
of fact, was later fired there from the vessel; they would have had 9 
men to pull ashore the line and attached rope and to make it fast, 
and it is substantially certain that a shore connection would thus 
ha\e been established, so that b\- means of the l^reeches buoy, which 
was ready on the Valencia, all those surviving on the wreck could 
have been drawai ashore in safety. 

Almost incredible as it may seem, this small space of 250 feet made 
the difference between life and death for the remaining 100 persons 
on board the / \ilcncia^ and this space would undoubtedly have been 
bridged had there been anybod\- to take the line on top of the cliff. 

The Commission does not desire to attribute blame to this shore 
party for its failure to grasp this opportunity. They had been beaten 
through the surf, some of them considerably injured, had spent the 
night in great discomfort, without food or shelter, and were none of 
them in a condition to coolly estimate the chances and to consider 
expedients which occur to persons in normal conditions; but inas- 
much as throughout the history of this disaster blame has perhaps 
at times been hastily imputed to various individuals and officials for 
failure to think of exactly the right thing at the right time this 
unfortunate oversight is also brought out, not b\- wa\' of criticism, 
but to show the possibilities of perfectly well meant but mistaken 
action. 

Turning therefore to the west, this shore party proceeded with 
great difficulty along the telegraph wire, finding no trail except a 
few infrequent blazes on the trees, and somewhere about i or 2 
o'clock in the afternoon, after crossing a difficult stream — the Darling 
River — came to a lineman's hut on the western bank of that river, 
into which the telegraph wire ran, and here, while in search of food, 
a telephone receiver and transmitter was discovered, was connected 
with the w'ires, and after repeated failure connnnnication was estab- 
lished with the light-house keeper at Carmanah a few moments 
before the arrival at Cape Beale of the N'olunteer crew under McCar- 
thv. The information reaching Carmanah was telegraphed to Ram- 
field Creek, and from there by cable to Victoria, thus giving to the 
outside world the first news of the disaster. 

Meantime, on the Valencia^ and in anticipation of a successful 
landing bv the volunteer crew, the Lyle line-firing gun had been 
placed in position (about 9 o'clock in the morning) on the hurricane 



24 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

deck, and attempts were made to fire a line ashore. The first attempt 
was nnsnccessful, inasmuch as the line, chafing against the side of 
its box, broke, and the projectile carried with it only a few feet of 
line, leaving the rest on board. The second shot was successful, 
and the line was carried far up over the cliff and back into the 
woods. This line was a small cord, perhaps a quarter of an inch in 
thickness, intended for drawing in a larger rope. The larger rope, 
a new one 5 inches in circumference, had been buckled to the 
mainmast near the crosstrees and a pulley with a breeches buoy 
rigged on this rope, the whole to be drawn ashore by means of the 
Lyle gun line. 

But for the reasons set out above the \'olunteer crew were unable 
to return. Also the other party, the shore party of 9, failed to 
come back to the top of the cliff, and the L}'le gun line hung there 
for two or three hours, and finally, sagging into the water, caught 
in wreckage and was chafed apart, and when Logan, Daykin, and 
Martin, coming along the telegraph line from Carmanah, arrived 
near the wreck on Wednesday, just before it broke up, they came 
across the inner end of this Lyle gun line, and, following it outward, 
came out on the brow of the cliff just above the Valencia in time to 
see her finally go to pieces. 

Only two lines were fired, it appearing that the vessel had only 
three projectiles, and, furthermore, it was useless to fire another line 
ashore unless there was someone there to receive it. 

Twice on Tuesday courageous attempts were made, one by a 
fireman and another by one of the ofiicers, to swim ashore with 
a line, but both failed, the swimmers being unable to overcome the 
backwash of the surf, and being greatly impeded and endangered 
b\- the wreckage, which was beating about between the vessel and 
the cliffs, so that they were both ultimately obliged to give up the 
attempt and were drawn back on board the vessel. Neither of 
them got more than halfway to the shore. Nothing more of impor- 
tance for this report occurred on Tuesday except the gradual break- 
ing up of the upper w^orks of the Valencia, so that by Tuesday 
night the passengers were all forced back to the top of the hurricane 
deck, some going into tlie rigging. Most, how^ever, remained on 
top of the hurricane deck, where a rude shelter of tarpaulins was 
arranged for them, and here all the women were located, wdiile a 
few of the men staved down in one of the remainino- cabins under- 
neath that deck in the after-house. 

Tlie vessel was all the time gradually settling, her frames evidently 
springing and a general collapse gradually taking place as she worked 



REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALKXCIA" DISASTER. 25 

on her bed and was pounded 1)\ the waves throucrh the nicrht. The 
wind and rain continued at inter\-als throuo^hout the night and the 
next day. vShe la\- in about 5 fathoms at her l;ow and 3'^ at her 
stern at low tide. 

On Wednesda>- morning the entire compau)- was forced to occup\- 
the hurricane deck or the rigging, as the water was coming into the 
cabins in the after-house on the saloon deck and all the rest of 
the upper works as far aft as the after-house, as well as part of the 
after-house, had been broken awa}-. 

About half past 9 Wednesday morning, just as another attempt was 
about to be made to swim ashore with a line, a vessel was observed 
by the passengers out to sea. This vessel was the Queen, ^\'hich 
had come down from Victoria to attempt to rescue the sur\i\-ors. 
Thereupon the attempt to swim the line ashore was given up, and 
after the Queen had lain off some mile and a half or 2 miles away 
for possibly a quarter or half an hour, the two life rafts were 
laimched in the hope of reaching the Queen. The first raft had on 
board only 10 men, most of the people feeling that they would be 
rescued directh- by the Queen and not caring to take the risk of 
p-oino- out on the raft. About this time three shots w^ere also fired 
from the Lyle gun to attract the attention of the Queen. 

This raft was launched and went out without much diflficult)- 
through the surf, some of the occupants rowing, and drifted west in 
the current and finally landed some time during the night, apparently 
between 8 o'clock Wednesday night and i o'clock Thursday morn- 
ing, on Turret Island, about 1 7 miles west along the coast from the 
wreck, and when this raft finally went ashore only 4 out of the 10 
passengers were alive, 2 having gone insane and jumped over- 
board and 4 others having succumbed to exposure. The sur\ivors 
were rescued the next day by outside assistance. 

Immediately after the launching of this first raft the second raft 
was launched and remained fastened alongside of the vessel for per- 
haps ten or fifteen minutes, and the unanimous evidence of many 
of the survivors is that at least 2 officers and some of the passengers 
urged the w^omen to go on board this raft, telling them that it was 
their last chance. This, however, the women all refused to do. It 
does appear, as a matter of fact, that there w^as no desperate rush for 
this raft, and if a number of witnesses are to be believed the women 
were given all reasonable opportunity to secure places on it. It 
must be remembered that at this time the steamer Queen was in 
plain sight, and it is highly probable that the women, dreading the 
chances of death on this apparently frail raft, preferred to remain 



26 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

on board, hoping to be rescued by boats from the Queen. At all 
events it seems to the Commission highly probable that the women 
were not willfully deserted, but that they remained on board of their 
own accord and against the urgings of the officers of the vessel. 

When this raft left the side of the vessel it carried its full comple- 
ment of passengers, i8 men, and it was crowded to about its full 
limit. This raft was subsequenth' secured and brought to Seattle, 
and the Commission made a test of it; and while the Commission 
managed to oret 22 men on it, it was obvious that 18 would crowd 
it seriously. This raft went out through the breakers without 
much difficulty, four oars being used and also bits of wreckage 
for paddles; and while most of the occupants were to some extent 
in the water as it washed over the raft, they were nevertheless able 
to row after a fashion, and none of them was at any time washed 
off, and the experience of this raft and its passengers is one of the 
strongest e\-idences that the sea about this time, to wit, half past 9 
or 10 o'clock Wednesday morning, was not severe. . 

It is inconceivable that a raft so heavily loaded, mostly with 
landsmen and using oars necessarily so close to the water as is the 
case with a raft, should have been able to proceed without accident 
and without serious trouble through any formidable line of break- 
ers; and, as a matter of fact, the other witnesses who testified to the 
severity of the sea on that da)^ recognized, and, in some cases, 
expressly said that this instance of the coming out of these rafts 
was a puzzle to them and wholly unintelligible. 

The Queen at no time saw either of these rafts. The second raft 
was picked up by the Topeka. 



CHAPTER V. 

THIRD PERIOD— RESCUE FROM OUTSIDE. 

Between 3.15 and 3.30 Tuesday afternoon, January 23, a telephone 
message was received at the Seattle office of the owners, the Pacific 
Coast Steamship Company, l^y Mr. J. E. Pharo, assistant to the 
manager of the company, which message came from Victoria, B. C, 
and stated that a vessel had gone a.shore somewhere on the west 
coast of Vancouver Island. About five minutes later this information 
was supplemented by a further message stating that the vessel was 
the Valettcia^ and that she was ashore somewhere west of Carmanah 
Light. Captain James B. Patterson, port captain of the company at 
Seattle, was also in the office when this message was received, and 
assisted ]\Ir. Pharo in his preparations for rescue. 

Knowing that the Queen, one of the large passenger steamers of the 
same company, was shortly due at \'ictoria, orders were sent at once 
to Captain Cousins, in charge of this vessel, to land his passengers at 
Victoria and proceed at once to the scene of the wreck and do what- 
ever he could in the way of rescue. 

Mr. Pharo then attempted to secure the services of one or more 
seagoing tugs, knowing that a light-draft, easily handled vessel 
would be the most serviceable in the work of rescue from a steamer 
ashore. But no seagoing tug was, at the time, available in Seattle 
or at points sufficiently near to be of an>- use, except one vessel 
which was under repairs and could not be made ready. The Puget 
Sound Towboat Compau}-, which operates most of the seagoing tugs 
in this vicinit)-, informed :\Ir. Pharo that they undoubtedly had 
tugs lying in Neah Ba\-, which is within 5 miles of Cape Flattery 
and about 25 miles from the place of the wreck. There are tugs King 
in this bay almost continuoush', waiting to tow incoming vessels up 
the Straits. But it then appeared that the Government telegraph line 
from Neah Bay to Port Angeles, communicating from there with 
Seattle, was out of order and no communication could be had with 
Neah Ba^-, although, as a matter of fact, it seems almost certain that 
there were at least one and possibly two seagoing tugs h'ing in the 
vicinity of Neah Bay, within 25 miles of the wreck, during much of 

27 



28 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

the time when the rescue operations were going- on. This failure of 
communication was one of the very unfortunate incidents that mini- 
mized the chances of rescue. 

The Topeka^ another vessel belonging to the Pacific Coast Steam- 
ship Company, was also at this time lying in Seattle Harbor dis- 
charging a cargo of dynamite. As soon as news came of the wreck 
Mr. Pharo also ordered the discharging of this cargo to be rushed, 
and finding shortly thereafter that it would be impossible to get all 
of the dynamite out before late at night, he ordered the captain to 
prepare and proceed to the scene of the wreck without unloading 
all the cargo, and she left for the wreck about lo p. m. Tuesday 
night. Mr. Pharo and Captain Patterson went with her and they 
took along nurses, a doctor, various medical stores, and 17 extra 
seamen. 

Meantime Captain Cousins, on the Qiieen^ pursuant to his orders 
at Victoria, landed his passengers there, except about 12, and at 
5 o'clock Tuesday afternoon started for the scene of the wreck, and 
arrived off Carmanah Light about 10 o'clock that night. His 
information when he started from Victoria was that the wreck was 
4 miles west of Carmanah Light. Arriving at the light, he prac- 
tically laid to, drifting or cruising up and down near the mouth of 
the Straits until da}'light next morning and then proceeded westward 
along the shores of Vancouver Island, speaking Carmanah Light on 
the way and beings informed that the wreck was 18 miles west of 
Carmanah. He also passed the Canadian vessels Csar and Salvor 
near Carmanah Light. Keeping a course within a mile or two of 
the shore, he observed the wreck about half past 9 in the morning, 
Wednesday, and laid to at that point, about a mile or mile and a 
half from the shore. Shortl)- after he arrived there he observed the 
Czar following him from the eastward and steamed out about a 
mile to stop this vessel, which was going past under the impression 
received from Carmanah Light that the I'alencia was much farther 
to the westward. 

The Czar is a small ocean-goino tug of the usual t)pe, of Cana- 
dian registr\ , and was apparently at the time of the wreck proceed- 
ing westward up the coast of Vancouver on a towage job in the 
vicinit)- of Barclay Sound. Upon being informed of the position 
of the wreck, the Czar steamed in toward it to a distance of from 
three-cjuarters of a mile to a mile from the shore, the evidence on 
this point being quite conflicting. Apparently the Czar did not 
stop off the wreck when it reached the nearest point to it, iMit made 



REPORT OK COMMISSION OX " VAI.KN'CIA'' DISASTKR. 29 

a turn and came back ao;ain at once ; and there is some evidence 
that about the time the Czar made the turn she shi])ped consider- 
able water an^l her master was alarmed thereb>-. :Meantime, the 
Salvor, a wreckino^ vessel of Canadian registry, had also come up 
alongside of the Queen, and when the Csar came out from her trip 
toward the w reck she first spoke the Salvor and then came over to 
the Queen. 

Prior to the arrival of the Czar on the scene, the men on the 
Queen had observed evidences of life on the wreck. Three i)uffs of 
smoke were noted from the afterhouse of the wreck, and with the 
glasses objects were observed in her rigging and apparently blankets 
flving from her shrouds. Accordingly, when the Czar came out 
and spoke the Queen after her run in toward the wreck, Captain 
Cousins and others' on the Queen told the Czar that there was life 
on the wreck. Captain Cousins says that he is not positive that 
the master of the 6>«/' heard him, inasmuch as he (Captain Cousins) 
was talking with a megaphone, but the master of the Czar did not 
have one. There is a distinct contradiction of evidence between 
witnesses on the Queen and witnesses on the Czar, the latter of 
whom state that they were not informed that there was life on the 
wreck, and they also affirm that they themselves saw no life on the 
wreck, that they so stated to the captain of the Queen, and that 
they acted on this belief. 

At all events, the Czar then terminated the conversation by 
informing the Queen that the Czar and Salvor were going up the 
coast w^estward, and both at once proceeded to do so, leaving the scene 
of the wreck about 10.15 a. m. The intention of the masters of 
these boats, the Czar and Salvor, was to go to Bam field and there 
organize a land party to give what assistance was possible by way 
of a land trail. 

Shortly after the departure of the Czar and Salvor the haze and 
rain, which had been intermittent up to this time, increased, so that 
from that time on the Queen did not have any sight of the wreck, as 
she lay 2 or 3 miles off from it. During this entire period, while 
the Queen was lying off the wreck, she made no attempt at rescue 
and did not lower her boats or rafts. Captain Cousins called in con- 
sultation with him shortly after his arrival off the wreck five Cana- 
dian and American pilots, whom he had taken on board at Victoria, 
and they all concurred with him in the belief, first, that the Queen 
had previously gone as far inshore as was safe for her to go, con- 
sidering- the unknown nature of the bottom. The Queen drew 21 



30 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

feet of water at the time and was about 300 feet long-, being one of 
the largest vessels of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company's fleet. 
Secondly, this conference agreed that it would be wrong to attempt 
to send lifeboats in to the ]'alencia, as they believed such boats 
could not be gotten out again against the surf and wind, and that 
anv such attempt would mereh- mean a further loss of life. 

At this point it is only justice to Captain Cousins to say that the 
Commission denies emphatically the truth of a certain rumor which 
prevailed shortly after the wreck and which was given wide cur- 
rency in the public press, to the effect that a half dozen seamen of 
the United States Navy, who were on board the Queeu^ came to 
Captain Cousins and volunteered to take a lifeboat to the wreck and 
that Captain Cousins refused to allow them to do so. Three of this 
half dozen of seamen were brought up from San Francisco and 
placed on the stand b>' the Commission, and they all denied making 
any such offer, and said that no such offer had been made. This 
rumor evidently arose from a mistaken understanding of the con- 
versation between passengers and has been the source of much 
unjust criticism of Captain Cousins. The Commission is thoroughly 
convinced that no such offer ever took place. 

Meantime the Topeka^ having left Seattle about 10 o'clock the 
previous night, as already described, came directly down the Straits 
and arrived alongside of the Queen about 11 o'clock Wednesday 
morning. The Topcka was in command of Captain Cann, and, as 
above stated, had also on board Mr. Pharo, the assistant to the man- 
ager of the compan\-. Captain James B. Patterson, port captain of the 
compan\- at Seattle, and also two marine insurance men. The 
QtLeen informed tlie Topeka that the wreck was directly astern of 
the Qtieen^ which was at that time lying bow out to sea. She also 
informed the Topeka that there was life on board, and that they had 
seen three puffs of smoke. Mr. Pharo then ordered the Queeti to 
return to Victoria, take on board her passengers, and proceed on her 
trip toward vSan PVancisco, speaking the Topeka again on her way 
out. Without comment or protest, Captain Cousins obeyed this 
order and proceeded to yictoria, leaving the Topeka off the wreck. 

The Queen did not give, nor did the Topeka ask for, any compass 
bearings as to the location of the wreck, and it should be remem- 
bered that the Qiiecu^ on account of the haze and thick weather, 
had not seen the wreck for nearly an hour prior to the arrival of the 
Topeka^ and, as a matter of fact, the Topeka did not at any time 
catch sight ol the wreck during the rest of that day or while there 
were anv survivors on board it. 



REPORT OF COMMISSION' OX " \AI,KN'CIA" DISASTER. 31 

Upon the departure of the Queen the Topeka steamed in slowly, 
abont a mile, till within sight of the coast, and there obtained sonnd- 
ings of abont 11 fathoms; and deeming it nnwise to go nearer to 
the coast she proceeded to patrol the coast np and down in search 
of the wreck, going, apparenth', nearly as far northwest as Cape 
Beale and as far sontheast as the wreck, bnt at no time catchinof 
sight of it. 

At abont noon, while on her westward beat, she sighted one of 
the two rafts which had left the \ 'a/encia, being the second raft to 
lea\e and having on board 18 people. This raft when sighted was 
substantially northward of the Topeka and probably abont 4 miles 
west of the wreck. When within a few hundred yards of the raft 
the Topeka lowered a boat which towed the raft alongside the 
steamer, and the survivors were taken on board. Considerable con- 
flict of testimou}- exists as to whether these survivors were ques- 
tioned thoroughly as to the location of the wreck and the condition 
of it. They were naturally in a ver>- much weakened condition 
themselves and what information the\' could give was necessarih' 
unsatisfactor}-, as they themselves had not seen the wreck for several 
hours, but it does not appear that the\- were interrogated with the 
thoroughness that should ha\'e been exercised, and man\- of them 
were not questioned at all. 

The Topeka then continued her patrol up and down the coast till 
about 4 o'clock that afternoon, and as it became dark desisted from 
the work and went over and spent the night near Neah Bay. The 
Topeka at no time lowered any of her boats or rafts, except on the 
one occasion when she picked np the life raft from the I'aleneia. It 
seems probable that the Topeka never got very close to the wreck at 
any time Wednesda}-. When the Queen gave the first information 
to the Topeka that the wreck was directly astern of the Queen ^ the 
Queen at that time had not seen the wreck for nearly an hour and had 
been lying offshore in a current which runs westward at this point 
probably from 2 to 3 miles an hour, and therefore, while the wreck had 
probabh- been directly astern of the Queen when it was last seen, the 
drift of this current had been such that when the Topeka arrived 
the Queen was probabh- between i and 2 miles westward of the 
wreck on the coast. Captain Cann, of the Topeka^ admits he 
"missed it (the wreck) about a mile" when he went toward shore 
immediately after the Queen left. This current here is well known 
to mariners, but neither the master of the Queen nor of the Topeka 
made an allowance for this drift. 



32 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "'VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

Meantime, the wreck had broken up completely as to its upper 
works somewhere between 12 and i o'clock Wednesday afternoon. 
Mr. Daykin, assistant light-house keeper at Carmanah, and IVIr. 
Logan, lineman, who had been at Carmanah Light when the news of 
the wreck had been received there from the shore party on Tues- 
day afternoon, left at once in company with Martin, a trapper, to go 
to the wreck, but finding the Clanewah River too high to be passable 
they spent Tuesday night there, some 2 or 3 miles east of the wreck, 
and proceeded again Wednesday morning along the line of the tele- 
graph wire. While passing on this line back of the bluffs overlook- 
ing the wreck they found the broken Lyle gun line which had been 
fired from the J^'alencia lying across the trail, and following this line 
outward came out on the bluff over the wreck just in time to observe 
its final condition, and very shortly after their arrival the last of the 
upper works collapsed and all the survivors thereon, from 60 to 80 
persons, except a few who clung to the rigging, were swept into the 
water and perished, some of them being drowned and some being 
beaten to death against the rocks. 

All of these persons had on life-preservers, and quite a number were 
carried out to sea through the breakers and perished there. It is not 
probable that many survived long in the water when we consider 
their state of exhaustion following the thirty-six hours' exposure on 
the wreck and lack of food and water. Messrs. Logan, Daykin, and 
Martin were wholh- unable to aid in any way, as the wreck was 
inaccessible from the shore and the)- could not throw a line to her, 
and when the final catastrophe occurred they were so overcome 
with the horror of the sight that they left the spot at once and pro- 
ceeded along the trail to the Darling River, where, late Wednesday 
afternoon, they found the shore party of 9 in the lineman's hut. 

Subsequently Messrs. Logan and Daykin, with the assistance of 
Mr. Martin, Mr. Bunker, and others, rendered valuable assistance in 
recovering the bodies of the victims. 



CIIAPTRR VI. 

CONDITIONS OF TIDE AND WEATHER. 

On the night of Monda)-, January 22, high tide occnrred at the 
point wliere the J^alcncia went ashore at practically midnight. The 
rise and fall of the tide dnring the next two days was about 8 feet. 
It appears clear that when the / 'alciicia went ashore there was a 
strong southeast breeze, blowing 15 to 25 miles an hour; that this 
continued throughout the night, and that there was also a fairly 
heavy swell coming in from the ocean. Apparently Tuesday morn- 
ing, and possibly part of Tuesday afternoon, the weather was less 
wind>- and the sea calmer than at any other time before the final 
break-up of the wreck. Showers and hazy weather were character- 
istic of the entire period. 

The reports froui Cape Flattery for this period as to the wind and 
weather are not at all definite, except on the point that during the 
entire night of January 22, until about 4 o'clock January 23, there 
was no fog or haze visible from Cape Flattery Light, and that 
Carmanah light was clearly visible from the Flattery Light during 
the entire night of the wreck and until dawn of the next morning. 
Also that the fog signal w^as stopped at 4 p. m. Monday and not 
started till 4.30 a. m. Tuesday. The log of Carmanah Light, 12 
miles from the wreck, shows that on the morning of Monday and 
until 3.45 p. m. it was rainy and hazy and the fog signal blowing, 
but was stopped at 3.45 p. m.; that there was a fresh easterly wind, 
growing stronger on Monday night, and that the entry at 1 a. m. 
Tuesday morning is "strong easterly gale;" that it became hazy at 7 
a. m. Tuesday, and the fog signal was started at 8 ; that there was also 
a strong easterly wind Tuesday night and Wednesday morning ; 9.15 
a. m. Wednesday morning a fresh easterly wind, cloudy and drizzle, 
and 3 p. m. Wednesday strong easterly wind, increasing toward 
night ; that during the night of the wreck Flattery light was \'isible 
all night, thus corroborating the statement from Flatter)- that Car- 
manah light was visible there all night. 

As bearing on the recommendations of the Commission and the 
peculiar conditions of this entrance to the Straits, one most important 
fact must be emphasized here, to wit, that during the entire night 
25639—06 3 33 



34 REPORT OF COMMISSION OX "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

when the Valencia went ashore, on which night she saw no lights and 
when the most distant view she got at any time was possibh- 2 miles, 
having been in a bank of fog or haze continuonsh', it was neverthe- 
less apparently qnite clear in the neighborhood of these two nearest 
lights, so mnch so that neither operated its fog signal after 4 o'clock 
Monday afternoon, or nntil after dawn the next morning, and so far 
as could be told from these two lights there was no haze or fog that 
required the operation of the signals. This supports strongh' the 
recommendations of the Commission, hereinafter set forth, as to 
the need of a light-ship on Forty Fathom Bank off the entrance to 
the Straits. 

The condition of the sea from half past 9 a. m. till i p. m. Wednes- 
da)' the 24th, covering the time when the rescue fleet was in the 
vicinity of the wreck and until it broke up, is of especial importance 
as bearing upon the possibilities of rescue, and there is a correspond- 
ino- amount of conflicting testimonv thereon, directed mainly to the 
point whether it would have been reasonably possible to get a life- 
boat, such as the Queen or the Topcka carried, in to the wreck and 
out again, or to have approached more closely to the wreck with the 
Queen, or to have floated life rafts to the wreck under the tow of 
lifeboats, or to have gone sufficienth- close to the wreck with life- 
boats to get a line to it. 

On the one hand we have the testimou)- of men on the Topeka, 
Czar, and Salvor, and especialh' on the Queen, all of whom were 
of the opinion apparently that a rescue was not possible. On 
board the Qneen were Captain Cousins, her master, a man with 
an exceptionally good record for courage and efficiency, and practi- 
cally the senior captain of the company's fleet, as well as five other 
experienced masters and pilots familiar with these waters, all of 
whom expressed their opinion at the time, and reiterated it before 
the Commission, that the sending of a lifeboat from the Queen in to 
the wreck on Wednesday morning would have meant the probable 
loss of the crew of the boat without any corresponding chance of 
success. Neither the master of the Czar nor the Salvor appeared 
before the Commission, but from their conduct their opinion must 
have been the same. 

On the other hand, there is the evidence, first, of the survivors 
from the Valencia who were on that vessel when the rescue fleet 
was in sight ; the evidence of Messrs. Logan and Daykin ; the evi- 
dence of certain excellent photographs which were taken by Mr. 
Curtis, the photographer on the staff of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 



REPORT OF COMMISSION OX "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 35 

from the deck of the Topcka 011 Wednesday, and wliich were sub- 
mitted to the Commission as exhibits; and finalh- the experience 
of the vohmtcer crew which went ont Tuesday morning, a day before 
the period now in question, and the experiences of the two life rafts 
which left the Valencia while the Qiicctt was in sight offshore on 
Wednesday morning. 

Low water occurred at 6.22 a. m. Wednesday, and the next high 
water thereafter at 12. 11 p. ni. Wednesday, a rise of 8 feet. The 
evidence of the observers on board the wreck is to the effect that 
there was substantialh- a continuous line of breakers in front of the 
Valencia^ at right angles to her length, and various witnesses placed 
this line either at her bow or at varying distances, as far as 200 
yards out. The waves were sweeping oxer most of the vessel 
except a small portion of the hurricane deck on the after-house, per- 
haps 20 or 30 feet in length, where the survivors were gathered. 
The vessel was lying on a comparatively even keel. Messrs. Logan 
and Daykin, who stood directh' back of the vessel on the cliff, testi- 
fied that this line of breakers ran along about 100 vards outside 
the bow of the Valencia^ but that for a space of possibh' 200 or 300 
feet directly in front of the l^alenda there was an interval of 
smoother water, which, if true, may explain some otherwise puzzling 
facts. It is possible that oil floating out from the sunken vessel 
ma\' have caused this smooth water. 

The volunteer crew went out Tuesday morning with comparative 
ease, but it is agreed that the sea on this day was smoother than on 
Wednesday. The most convincing testimony, however, as to the 
comparative smoothness of the sea, lies in the experience of the two 
life rafts that left the wreck while the Queen was in sight and 
within half an hour of each other. The first of these rafts went off 
with 10 men on board, and, with some of them rowing, got out 
beyond the line of breakers without losing anyone; was drifted 
westward down the current in the trough of the sea for at least 1 7 
miles, and from the middle of the afternoon till sometime in the 
nipfht when she went ashore carried the senseless or dead bodies of 
4 of her passengers without an)- of them being washed off, and the 
survivors of this raft testified that tlie>- were at no time in any great 
danger of being washed off, even while going through the breakers, 
and that once outside the line of breakers they rode with entire 
safety. 

The second raft, which went out within half an hour of the first, 
lav alongside the vessel at the stern for ten or fifteen minutes, moored 



36 REPORT OF COMMISSION OX "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

by a painter, rising and falling alongside, but apparent!}- not collid- 
ing severely with lier. Eighteen passengers, the fnll complement 
for this raft, got on board, some of them sitting and kneeling, 
and one, at least, standing np on her stern. When this raft was 
cut loose, four oars were gotten out, and other passengers provided 
themselves with paddles in the shape of bits of board, and with 
these means the raft was forced out through the surf and at least 
half to three-quarters of a mile beyond it without losing any passen- 
gers or oars. The use of an oar on a raft which lies so close to the 
water is, as a general proposition, a difficult task, and it is very hard 
to see how unskilled men under such conditions could manage to 
row through anv surf which could be considered at all heavy. 

With only one or two exceptions the passengers on the raft testi- 
fied that they at no time felt any danger of being washed off and 
that no hea^•^■ seas came over them e\'en while in the surf, and 
when these facts were outlined to the witnesses on the Queen^ and 
especially to the experienced seamen who testified to a line of heavy 
breakers, they admitted themselves wholly unable to explain them, 
and said frankly that the experience of these rafts was a puzzle to 
them. Referring to the testimony of Messrs. Logan and Daykin, 
as to the narrow strip of comparatively smooth water directly in 
front of the Valencia^ there ma}' be here a partial explanation for 
this difficulty, and it is possible that these rafts went out through 
this smooth strip while the rescue fleet, which did not lie directly 
out from the J^alencia^ and therefore got only a diagonal view of 
her bow, did not observe this gap in the breakers. The water at 
the bow of the Valencia was about 5 fathoms in depth at low water, 
deepening gradually to seaward, and, with the swell that doubtless 
prevailed at the time of the wreck, it might easily be that the sea 
would break at this point, if not farther out. 



CHAPTER VII. 

EQUIPMENT OF THE VALENCIA. 

During the \ear preceding the disaster the Valencia's equipment 
had been inspected three times, the hist time three weeks before the 
wreck. So far as it appears from the testimony, her equipment was 
in excellent condition and completely fulfilled the requirements of 
the law and regulations, with certain very minor exceptions. She 
carried more life-preservers than was required and a larger boat 
capacity. Her engines and machinery were in good condition and 
her hull had recently been o\'erhauled and repaired. There was 
some evidence to show that one of the thole pins in one of the boats 
did not fit, but this might have been due to inexperience of the 
person using it. There was also some evidence to the effect that 
one of the plugs in one of the boats was missing. 

Complaints were made by some of the survivors as to the buoyant 
quality of the tule life-preservers. This fact is a matter which can 
not be charged against the owners of the vessel, inasmuch as such 
life-preservers were allowed by law and had been properh' passed 
by the inspector. One or two witnesses stated that these life- 
preservers seemed to weigh 50 to 60 pounds when they got out of the 
water with them on, but these men were in an exhausted condition, 
and such estimates are, of course, incorrect, inasmuch as the cubic 
capacity of an ordinary life-preserver, if filled entirely with water, 
would not weigh over 40 pounds. 

A public test was made by the Commission at Seattle of eight tule 
life-preservers, taken off as man}- different steamers in the harbor, 
with the result that the)- all sustained the test, and after an immer- 
sion of 17 hours in salt water, with 20 pounds attached to each, 
were all afloat, and the heaviest of them at the end of that time 
weighed 14 pounds, having absorbed 9 pounds 15 ounces of water. 

Other tests were made at one of the factories where these life- 
preservers are made in San Francisco, where such life-preser\'ers 
sustained a weight of 34 pounds for a short period. 

These tests will be continued by the Department and the results 
laid before the Board of Supervising Inspectors, Steamboat-Inspection 
Service, which has jurisdiction over the subject. 

37 



CHAPTER VIII. 

CONCLUSIONS. 

In accordance with the facts set forth in the foregoing narrative, 
which contains, it is believed, substantially all the essential points 
broug-ht out in the testimonv, the Commission desires to state certain 
general conclusions bearing on the responsibility for the loss of life 
in this disaster : 

(i) The laleitcia went ashore through the faulty navigation of 
Captain Johnson, her master. 

He appears to have been a man of good character, sober, and with 
a good reputation as a seaman, but his management of the vessel on 
this trip was unsatisfactory on several points, as follows : 

{a) He acted upon the singular belief that his log was " overrun- 
ning 6 per cent," a belief that would have been justified only upon 
the ground that both the current and the wind were against him, 
whereas the wind w^as certainh' nearly aft, and it is common knowl- 
edp-e among all masters along this coast that at this time of year 
the normal current flows toward the northward and accordingly 
with the course of the vessel, both of which facts would make the 
vessel go faster over the ground than through the water, and the 
log would therefore fail to register the entire progress of the vessel 
over the ground, and thus the log would jiudcrruu, if anything, 
rather than overrun. 

{b) Although he saw no land or lights with certainty after pass- 
ing Cape Mendocino at 5.30 a. m. Sunday, he did not commence to 
take soundings until 6 p. m. Monday, thirty-six hours later, when 
his last definite point of departure was at least 450 miles behind him. 

{c) Even after he began to take somidings, he did not take them 
with sufficient frequency. He did not interpret correctly the sound- 
ings taken, and, .so far as can be ascertained, he spent very little time 
in comparing tlie soundings witli his chart and did not carefully 
study them, as he should. 

{(i) Such soundings as he got might not have shown him where 
he was, but if j^roperly studied they would at least have demon- 
strated the fact that he was not where he thought he was and that 
he should be on his guard. It is a peculiarity of the bottom along 
38 



RKPORT OF COMMISSION OX ''VALENCIA" DISASTER. 39 

this course that if a vessel is proceedinjr as she should when 
approachino; Umatilla Licrht-shi]-) from the south and from there 
up to Cape Flattery, she will ^ct a definite line of soundinj^s of no 
great depth, varyiuo- from 25 to 50 fathoms, and as soon as she 
passes Cape Flatter}- and it becomes time to turn sharply to the east 
into the entrance to the Straits the bottom suddenly drops off on the 
correct course to a much greater depth, giving soundings ranging 
from 120 to 180 fathoms; and any master who has maintained 
proper relations to the coast before passing Umatilla Light-ship and 
is getting a continuous line of shallow soundings, keeping between 
the 20 and the 50 fathom curve, will have his position indicated to 
him with substantial certainty. When he gets over this "hole" and 
finds this line of deep soundings, he will then know that he can be 
in but one i)lace and that that place is the entrance to the vStraits, 
and he can then turn eastward and proceed down the Straits. 

Captain Johnson failed utterly to get any such line of calculations, 
and, not getting them, he should have been put very much on his 
guard. It is a matter of mere geograph}-, as he very well knew, 
that his northward course, if continued, must ultimately run him 
ashore on Vancouver Island. He knew that the coast of Vancouver 
was somewhere dead ahead of him, King like a long wall almost 
directly across the northward course that he was maintaining in 
coming from San Francisco. The safct\' of any vessel on this course 
which intends to enter Puget Sound depends upon its making the 
turn at the proper time. The entrance to the Straits is about 12 
miles wide, and a master making this northerly trip knows that he 
nuist either turn and find this 12-mile entrance, or, if he continues 
his course, go ashore on Vancouver Island. 

With this certainty, therefore, that Vancouver Island is somewhere 
dead ahead on the northern trip, ordinar}- regard for the safety of 
passengers requires that the utmost caution should be exercised 
when approaching this entrance, and if there are any indications, 
either through soundings or current, fog, or haze, which create a 
doubt as to the vessel's actual position the vessel should be laid to 
or headed out to open sea until its position can be absoluteh' deter- 
mined. Considering the remoteness of Captain Johnson's last point 
of departure, the well-known uncertain character of the currents, 
the deflecting effect of the wind and sea, and the peculiar nature of 
the soundings he got, he should have taken this prudent course. 

Such action Captain Johnson failed to take, and upon his improper 
navigation in this respect must rest the primary responsibility for 
the disaster. 



40 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

It seems very clear from the evidence, as well as from the experi- 
ence of expert masters, that Captain Johnson was navigating the 
vessel in an nnscientific and crnde fashion, not availing himself of 
accurate means of information, but depending apparently more on his 
general belief that the vessel would arrive at the mouth of the 
Straits at a certain time, based probably on his previous experience 
on this run. This haphazard method of navigation seems almost 
incredible upon a modern passenger vessel, but it certainly took 
place in this case, and the Commission has reason to believe that 
other masters are occasionally guilty of similar methods — in navi- 
gating, as one master testified, b>' "horse sense," which is not a 
satisfactory- substitute for accurate information when human lives 
are concerned. 

{e) He allowed the two station men or lookouts to keep alternate 
watches of six hours each in length. A two-hour watch is suffi- 
ciently long for safety, and four hours should be the extreme. 

(/) He did not require a boat drill of his crew and was not 
intending to have one probabh- until he reached Puget Sound. 
One-half the crew on the J'alencia were new men, and thus this 
omission of the captain nullified to a large extent the usefulness of 
the boat equipment so far as this trip was concerned. 

{g) As soon as the vessel struck, instead of leaving the boats in their 
chocks, where they would not have been interfered with by the 
passengers, he directed them to be lowered to the saloon rail, and 
thus made it possible for them to be taken possession of by the 
passengers and unskillfully lowered away in the confusion, and, 
although he ordered the boats when lowered to be lashed to the rail, 
he took nb steps to see that this was done or to protect the boats 
from the inrush of the passengers. 

To thus place the boats within the reach and control of excited 
pa.ssengers would have been justifiable onh- if he had had a crew 
perfectly trained to handle and guard the boats, and the crew training 
required for such an operation would be rarel}- found on an}- merchant 
ves.sel and certainly did not exist on the l^alencia. Considerable 
allowance, however, must be made for the confusion and alarm at 
this time, and for the desire of the captain to take prompt action. 

Captain Johnson's conduct after the vessel struck and the boats 
had been lowered was satisfactory, and he apparently did all he 
could for the safety and comfort of his passengers, and showed 
courage and judgment. 

The Commission regrets that it is obliged to criticise the actions 
of a man who went down with his ship and who is unable to defend 



RKl'ORT OF CO.M.MISSIOX OX "VAIJ-.XCIA' DISASTKR. 41 

himself; l)nt for the complete uiKlerstandin<r of this disaster and the 
proper establishment of the important lessons thereof it is neces- 
sary to call attention to the primar)- causes that led to the wreck 
and the loss of life, so that they may be impressed in the future upon 
masters having similar responsibility, and so that such masters ma}- 
be led to avail themselves of all possible means of information. 

(2) Excepting possibly her bulkheads and one set of davits, the 
construction and equipment of the Valencia., so far as the safety of 
her passengers was concerned, was Excellent, and none of the loss 
of life was due to any defect therein. The question of the buoyant 
qualities of the tule life-preserver is one for determination by the 
Government, and inasmuch as such life-preser\^ers were allowed by 
the regulations no blame should be attributed to the steamship 
company for having them on board. 

(3) The measures taken by the steamship company to send vessels 
to the rescue were as complete as possible uilder the circumstances, 
with the single exception that Captain Cousins should have been 
ordered to stop at Neah Bay on his way down to the wreck with 
the Quci'u^ so as to pick up there, if possible, any available seagoing 
tug that might be in that bay or vicinity. Captain Patterson ad- 
mits in his testimony that when he received news of the wreck he 
knew (on general principles) that there were probably one or more 
tugs at this bay; he also knew that the wire to that place was out 
of order and that the tugs could not be reached from Seattle. The 
Queen actually lay in the mouth of the Straits from about 10 o'clock 
Tuesday night until early Wednesday morning, within 15 or 20 
miles of Neah Ba)-. As a matter of fact, there were tugs at this 
bay at the time. Either Mr. Pharo or Captain Patterson should 
have directed the Queen to stop at Neah Bay for a tug on the way 
down. 

While this was a serious omission from the standpoint of the 
results, it is hardly surprising that this point was overlooked in the 
haste and confusion of the short period, perhaps an hour and a half, 
from the time the news of the wreck was received at the Seattle 
office initil the time the Queen left Victoria, and the officials of the 
steamship company can hardly be severely criticised for overlooking 
this precaution. It is onl}^ fair to say that the company exerted 
itself very vigorous!}' in the recovery of bodies, in pro\-iding cloth- 
ing and lodgings for the survivors, and in all measures of relief, at a 
total expense to the company of over $15,000. 

(4) The order given to the Queen from the Topeka at 1 1 o'clock 
Wednesday morning off the wreck to leave the scene and return to 



42 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

Victoria was wrong. The Commission believes that, as a matter of 
legal right, ^Ir. Pharo was the supreme authority on the spot in 
regard to an order of this nature. Captain Patterson, who was on 
the bridge of the Topeka with ]\Ir. Pharo when the order was given, 
and who actually delivered it through the megaphone, admits in his 
testimony that he (Patterson) was " the original suggester of the 
order." This is probable, inasmuch as Captain Patterson was a 
master of wide experience and excellent ability in matters of navi- 
gation, and doubtless Mr. Pharo relied upon him for practical judg- 
ment in these matters. The Commission therefore believes that the 
legal responsibility for this order rests upon ]\Ir. Pharo and the 
moral responsibility upon Captain Patterson, and that both of them 
are hig-hlv censurable for having issued or sanctioned this order. 

It is hard to understand the motive for this order. Probably it 
was the desire that the Queen should return and resume her regular 
business in the commercial interests of the company, though it must 
be said that the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, throughout the 
entire matter, seems to have spared no effort or expense, except in 
this one case, to effect a rescue and to relieve the survivors. Both 
of these men argued on the witness stand that upon the arrival of 
the Topeka^ which drew 17 feet, the presence of the Qiieen^ draw- 
ing 21 feet, was no longer of any use, as she was unable to go in as 
shallow water as the Topeka^ and being a larger vessel was less 
easily handled, and that inasmuch as only one vessel was needed 
there the Topeka was the one that should have remained. This 
argument shows the error in their entire position. 

There ivas need for as many vessels there as amid be gotten. 
When the Topeka arrived alongside the Qneen^ the Qneen had not, 
by reason of the haze, seen the wreck for nearly an hour. The 
immediate question was, therefore, not one of rescue but of finding 
the wreck; and, as a matter of fact, the Topeka during the rest of 
that afternoon patrolled a beat of 6 or 8 miles up and down the 
coast over and over again in the \'ain attempt to find the wreck. 
Furthermore, Messrs. Logan and Daykin testified that when the 
wreck broke up, about an hour after the departure of the Qiieen^ a 
number of those still remaining on the wreck, and all having life- 
preservers on, floated out to sea. It is obvious, therefore, that, had 
the Queen remained, twice as much ground could have been covered 
by the patrol in the attempt to find the wreck, and the officers of 
the Qneen had the best knowledge of where the wreck was, and 
thus there would have been more than double the chance of finding 



REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 43 

the wreck, and also this would have doubled the chance of picking 
u\) some of the sunivors floating seaward from the wreck. 

It might easily have happened that while the Topcka was engaged 
in her vain search westward the Queen, had she been there, might, 
by going in the other direction, have located the wreck again and 
picked up a number of these last victims. It is of course impossible 
to sa)' whether the retention of the Queen at the scene of the wreck 
would have saved any lives, but it is equalh- hard to see wh\-, under 
the circumstances and in view of the possibilities, she was not 
ordered to remain. 

(5) The officers of the Topeka never saw the wreck and therefore 
could take no means of rescue. The officers of the Queen, how- 
ever, were in sight of the wreck for about an hour (during part of 
which time they were occupied, it is true, with conversations with 
the Czar), and the question of sending boats to the wreck was dis- 
cussed by the officers of the Queen and the masters and pilots on 
board, and was unanimously decided in the negative. This failure 
to make an attempt to send boats to the wreck, or to drift a raft to 
it, or to get a line to it, raises a question which, of all others, the 
Commission found most difficult to decide. Undoubtedly the sea 
was of considerable strength and the coast dangerous, there being 
apparenth- a continuous line of breakers between them and the 
Valencia. 

Unquestionably the men on board the Queen, as a matter of com- 
mon humanity, desired to do the best they could to effect a rescue; 
no men in their position could have felt otherwise. On the other 
hand, from the incontestable experience of the boat and the life- 
rafts from the Valencia, the Commission believes that there was a 
fair chance of establishing communication with the wreck either by 
w^ay of boats or h\ drifting a raft to her, but the men on the Queen 
knew nothing at the time of the experience of these rafts, and there 
was doubtless considerable justification from their standpoint for 
their belief that the establishment of this communication was prac- 
tically impossible. 

It was practically the unanimous opinion of a large number of 
witnesses that the ordinar>- lifeboats could have been safel>- taken 
in toward the wreck as long as they kept outside of the line of 
breakers. Outside of this line the sea was not combing or break- 
ing, and small boats would have been perfectly safe. This line of 
breakers was probably not more than from 100 to 200 yards out 
from the bow^ of the Valencia. Had the Queen and the Topeka 



44 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

both remained on the spot, and had the wreck been again located, a 
number of boats might have been held just outside the line of 
breakers, and some of the survivors drifting seaward would have 
been picked up. Furthermore, had this close approach been made 
to the 'line of breakers with the boats the men in them might have 
seen reason to change their opinion that a boat could not be gotten 
through the breakers, and a rescue might have thus been attempted 
directly to the wTeck. Moreover, had boats been thus sent in to 
the line of breakers before the wreck was again located, its location 
might have been ascertained in this way. But for some reason no 
boats were lowered for this purpose. It was claimed by some wit- 
nesses that it was unsafe to lower a boat from the Queen on that 
day, but, as a matter of fact, the Topeka did lower a boat with safet}- 
and without difhculty about an hour later to pick up the raft. 

On this point, therefore, the Commission desires to express no 
opinion, but is compelled to observe that there was certainly no 
display of the heroic daring that has often marked other such emer- 
gencies in our merchant marine. 

(6) As to the conduct of the Czar and the Salvor, the Commis- 
sion is under certain peculiar restrictions in stating any definite 
conclusions. These vessels are not of American registry and their 
officers are not subject to American laws. Furthermore, they owed 
no duty under the circumstances except that of ordinary humanity; 
and, finally, with one exception, none of the officers of these vessels 
appeared before the Commission. Also, a conflict of testimony exists 
as to whether the Csar, when she left the scene of the wreck, knew 
there was life on board the wreck or had anv reason to think it 
possible. 

The established facts, therefore, are that the Czar, in company 
with the Salvor, lay off the wreck near the Queen while the 
wreck was visible ; that the Czar approached within possibly a mile 
or a mile and a half of the wreck ; that she shipped considerable 
water ; that she came back at once to the Queen and reported that 
there was no life on the wreck ; that Captain Cousins told her that 
there was life there ; that it is uncertain whether the officers of the 
Czar understood tliis information ; that the Czar then stated that 
she was "going for shelter," and in company with the Salvor left 
the scene while the wreck was still visible. Any judgment of this 
conduct of the Czar and the Salvor must turn about the one point 
as to whether the captain of the Czar knew there was life on the 
wreck or w^hcther he had anv reason whatsoever to consider it 
le. 



RKPORT OF COM.M1S.SIOX UX " VAIJCXCIA" UlSASTUR. 45 

Two witnesses on the Qitccu swear to a discussion between the 
Quccii and the Czar as to this question of life upon the wreck, and 
if this discussion actually took place it of course must have raised 
at least a question of doubt in the mind of the captain of the 
Czar. The Commission believes that on the evidence as submitted 
to it the captain of the Czar had sufficient information, either of 
his own or from the Qiwcn^ to raise a doubt at least in his mind as 
to this point. The Sah'or had no conversation with the Queen., 
and acted solely upon what the Czar told her. A witness who was 
present on the Salvor testified thus, the transcrij^t of testimony, 
questions and answers, reading as follows: 

O. I am after this point, Captain: The Qxieeii told the Ci^rr emphatic- 
ally that there was life on the wreck ; the Czar came and reported to 
the Queen that there was not, and the Queen said there was. Now, did 
the Czar report to you what the Queen said about it? — A. No, sir. 

Q. Said nothing about the belief of the Queen ? — A. Xo ; not at that 
time. 

Q. Did she later on? — A. Yes; at Bamfield. 

Q. What did .she say at Bamfield? — A. Captain Troupe was talking 
with Captain Christensen, and I was on deck alongside of him, and 
Captain Christen.sen stated emphatically that he could not see any signs 
of life on the wreck; and he mentioned then that they had spoke about 
it on the Queen, and .said that they had heard three .shots fired. Captain 
Troupe was rather put out about it, and he went in to speak to the 
others on board a])out it — Captain Cox and Mr. BuUen. Pilot Camp- 
bell was standing on the deck of the tug, and I a.sked him, and he .seemed 
to have some doubt as to life being on board the ship. As soon as I 
knew that I told Captain Troupe, " Campbell is not so sure as to whether 
there is life on the vessel or not." "Well," Captain Troupe .said, "if 
there is any doubt about it we will just get to work." So we formed 
our rescue party right then and sent the Czar for the whaler. 

Captain Troupe, referred to in the above conversation, was in charo-e 
of the Salvor.^ Captain Chri.stensen_ master of the Czar., and Camp- 
bell pilot of the Czar. 

These men, the officers of the Czar and the Salvor, are Canadian 
citizens, and the Commission does not deem it proper to criticise the 
conduct of other than American citizens, but considers that its duty 
has been done in this matter when it has stated what it believes to 
be the facts. 

(7) From the personal examination made by the Commi.ssion of 
the Steamboat-Inspection Service at Seattle and the officers thereof, 
and from the results of the very thorough reinspection, b\- na\al 
officers detailed for that purpose, of 35 vessels coming into the port 
of Seattle about the time of the hearings there, the Commission 
finds, with a few minor exceptions, that the condition of the Steam- 
boat-Inspection Service at this port is excellent in point of efficiency. 



46 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

(8) Reserving the most important conclnsion for the last, the 
Commission desires to emphasize, as the primary and greatest cause 
of the loss of life, the defective state of the aids to navigation and 
preservation of life in the shape of light-houses, fog signals, life- 
saving equipment, and means of communication in the vicinity of 
the wreck. 

Owing to the peculiar weather conditions at the entrance to the 
Straits, the Valencia was navigating in a haze which prevented her 
from seeing the lights, while at Cape Flatter)' Light itself the 
weather was clear and the fog signals were not sounding ; in other 
words, the most important light in this entire course, to wit, that on 
Cape Flattery, is not placed in the zone where, by reason of the fog 
and the thick weather, the greatest danger lies. 

The nearest United States life-saving station is on the south side 
of Grays Harbor, no miles away from the wreck, and therefore 
absolutely inadequate to cover this dangerous locality. 

The telegraphic communications from Cape Flattery and Neah 
Bay are of the most precarious kind, the wires being strung on trees 
and continualh' out of order through falling trees and other acci- 
dents, and when needed to secure tugs from Neah Bay to go to the 
w-reck the wire was out of order. 

This part of Vancouver Island is substantially an almost impene- 
trable wilderness, wdth nothing of civilization in the interior in this 
vicinity and only a few inhabited points along the coast. Almost 
a similar condition exists on the coast of the State of Washington, 
though somewhat more inhabited. 

In order to satisfy the just desire of the public in regard to all 
details of this disaster, the Commission has, as above indicated, stated 
its belief as to any points where lack of human effort or errors in 
judgment on the part of private individuals contributed to loss of 
life; but when all that is possible has been said in this direction, it 
must be frankly admitted that by far the greater part of the respon- 
sibility for .such loss of life lies upon the fundamental natural con- 
ditions inherent in tlifsTbcality, and that the extent of this disaster 
was in largel'neaslire due to the permanent and unavoidable perils 
of the sea; that the question is by far more one of navigation and 
the safeguarding of the coast and the waterways than of anything 
el.se, and that the only source from which any substantial correction 
of such evils can come is the Federal Government. Therefore, 
earnestly holding this belief, the Commission has hereinafter set 
forth its recommendations for action b\' the Government. 



REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 47 

It is necessary and proper to establish responsibilit}' in connec- 
tion with this disaster and to censnre any who may have been in 
fault, but this will not restore the lives of the victims nor will it 
protect passenger traffic in the future. If such a terrible disaster 
must occur, it must be regarded primarih- in the nature of a les.son 
for the future — a lessonnot to be disregarded — and if the Govern- 
ment, acting upon this lesson, shall make all reasonable provisions 
within its power for the safeguarding of this coast, the victims of 
the Valencia will not have perished in vain. 



CHAPTER IX. 

RECOMMENDATIONS. 

The Commission desires to make certain recommendations, as a 
result of its investigation, for the better protection of life and prop- 
erty involved in traffic on Aiget Sound and the entrance to the 
Straits. In order to bring the matter at once to the attention of the 
public, the Connnission, as soon as it adjourned its hearings in 
Seattle, issued a brief statement of recommendations, and these 
recommendations, with additional ones, will now be taken up and 
tlie reasons for them given. 
^V / (^) Such changes should be made in the present equipment, if 
\ ., '• ■ 'U any such are needed, at Cape Flatter}- Light as will insure the exist- 
V- I ence there of a light of the first order and of the highest possible 

\ efficiency, and a fog signal also of the highest possible efficiency. 
The details of such improvements are a matter for the expert con- 
sideration of the Light-House Board. The Commission merely 
desires to suggest the possible value of the installation of a vertical 
beam of light at this place. It is understood that the Light-House 
Board will try a siren there, and if it is more effective than the fog 
whistle it will be installed permanently. 

(2) Umatilla Reef Light-ship. Such changes should be made in 
V;- the present equipment of this light-ship, if any such are needed, 

as will insure the existence there of a light of the first order and of 
the highest possible efficiency, ^ and a fog signal of the highest pos- 
sible efficiency, the details to be left for the consideration of the 
Light-House Board. 

(3) There should be established a li ght-ship to ^be an chored on 
the so-calle d "Fo r ty Fathom Ban k" off the entrance to the Straits, 
at a point about 14 miles from Cape Flattery, north 60° west, mag- 
netic. The light should be of the first order, with corresponding 
fog signal. 

It is believed that tlic reasons for the above recommendations 
have been brought out with considerable emphasis in the preceding 
part of this report and that the Valencia wreck is a forcible illustra- 
tion of such reasons. Briefly stated, they are as follows: 

This entrance to Puget Sound through the Straits of Juan de Fuca 
is probably the most important single entrance on the Pacific coast. 
48 



REPORT OF COMMISSION OX "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 



49 



The Coiiiniission believes, from various estimates, that from 5,000,000 
to 6,000,000 tons of traffic' a year pass through this entrance, and the 
importance thereof is rapidly increasing. A number of important 
steamship lines, both passenger and freight, to the Orient, and a 
vast amount of coastwise shipping between the more southern ports 
on the Pacific coast and {Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellingham, 
Victoria, and other important Puget Sound cities, pass over this 
course. 

The dangers ^ th is entrance are out of all proportion to the 
present .ligiit-hpuse_and. fog-signal equipment. The conditions of 
coast and weather are wholly different from those prevailing on 
the Atlantic coast ; the coast itself js bluff and rockv ; deep sound- 
ings may be obtained close inshore and are therefore of little value 
in determining a ship's position, and throughout at least one-half 
the year fogs and haze prevail in this vicinity, and these fogs lie in 
such peculiar formations that, as was the case with the Jalencia^ 
vessels offshore may be in a fog or haze while the shore lights are 
in clear weather and their keepers have no knowledge that the fog 
is in existence and hence do not operate their fog signals. It is also 
well known, by experiments of the Light-House Board made on the 
Atlantic coast, that the radiation of sound from fog si<rnals is 
extremely erratic and that such signals can not be relied upon, nor 
is it even possible to determine decisively the causes of these aber- 
rations. The Commission itself, while cruising off Cape Flattery 
Light in comparatively clear weather, at a distance westerly of a 
mile and a quarter, saw repeatedly the steam issue from the fog 
signal at the light as it was blowing, but could not hear the signal. 

This entrance to the Straits is of somewhat peculiar geographic 
nature, as will be obser\'ed from the chart in this report. The west 
shore of Vancouver Island lies almost directly across the inward 
course of steamers coming there from the Orient and especially of 
those coming from down the coast. In case of steamers coming 
from down the coast, the\- must proceed up the coast headed directly 
toward Vancouver Island, and, upon reaching Cape Flattery, must 
then turn sharph- to the eastward and find the entrance to the 
Straits, which is about 12 miles wide, and if this turn is not made 
at the proper time, as was the case with the Valencia^ the vessel 
must inevitably go ashore on the Vancouver coast. ^-v/"^- -• 



Evidence covering a period from 1855 to 1890, exhibited to the 
Commission, showed wrecks of 35 vessels in as many years on the 
west shore of Vancouver in this vicinity, all of which vessels had been 

25639—06 4 



he 



K 



f 



50 REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

trying to make this entrance to the Straits; and since 1890 at least 
as large an additional proportion of vessels" has gone ashore there, so 
it is safe to say thkt at least an average of one wreck a }-ear occnrs 
in this locality, and probably dnring the time these records have 
been kept in the last fifty years between 500 and 700 lives have been 
lost there, to say nothing of millions of dollars' worth of property. 
Cape Flattery, therefore, and its immediate vicinit)- is the key or 
turning point of the entrance to the vStraits and is of the utmost 
importance to navigators. 

There exist also currents in this locality, and as far down as San 
Francisco, which vary in force and direction with the varying sea- 
sons of the }ear, and also, witliin a gi\'en season, var)- with the 
different conditions of the wind, and are further complicated at the 
mouth of the Straits by the strong tides there, and these currents 
are at present very little understood, even by those who navigate 
them constantly. The fact that the Valencia w^as off her course was 
primarily due to the existence of such a northward current. 

These facts emphasize particularly the need for a light-ship on 
Forty-Fathom Bank. This light-ship would be sufficienth' offshore 
to be substantially in the course of those vessels that have gone 
ashore on Vancouver through missing the Straits, and would also be 
in the region of haze and fog to a much greater extent than either 
Cape Flattery Light or Carmanah Light (which is on Vancouver, 
directly across from Cape Flattery Light), so that the conditions 
around the light-ship in this respect would be much more nearly 
the same as the conditions met by the average incoming vessel. 

(4) A first-class, ocean-going, life-saving steamer or tug officered 
and manned by the most skillful life-saving crew available, should 
be stationed at Neah Bay, which is within 5 miles of Cape Flattery 
and the entrance to the Straits, and the only available harbor in that 
locality, to be equipped wuth the best possible appliances of surf- 
boats and lifeboats, with a wireless telegraph apparatus. The 
Commission understands that a bill for this purpose has already 
passed the Senate and has been favorably reported by the House 
committee. In conjunction with this there should be a telegraph 
and telephone line skirting the coast from the life-saving station 
at Grays Harbor, passing through the light station at Cape 
Flattery, to Neah Bay, thence to the nearest town on Puget 
vSound. This wire should run along a practicable foot trail, which 
should be kept open continuously and marked at frequent intervals 
by signboards indicating the locality and direction, and should 



REPORT OF C0M:\IISSI0X OX '' \ALENCIA" DISASTER. 5I 

enter intermediate telegraph and teleplione huts at intervals of a few- 
miles along the said line of wire. 

(5) A system of wireless stations .should be established, including 
stations at Cape Flattery Light, Point Wilson or Point Partridge, 
Seattle, and at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, and al.so down the 
Pacific coast at least to Grays Harbor. The Commission is advised 
that the Navy Department has now in course of building a wireless 
station at Cape Flatter}- and that it has appropriations already 
granted for Point Wilson and Seattle. If this be done b\- the Navy 
Department, it will fulfill the requirements of this recommendation. 

The reasons for the two foregoing recommendations are al.so, it is 
believed, fairly obvious from the preceding parts of this report. The 
life-saving tug is the only practicable form of life-.saving service in 
this localit}-. Comnninication overland by life-saving equipment 
from a given station, such as is practiced on the Atlantic coast, is 
ab.solutely "impossible, owing to the uninhabited nature of the conn- 
try and the total lack of roads and footpaths. The nearest life- 
saving station to Cape F'latter)- is now at Grays Harbor, 90 miles 
south, and for any use at Cape Flattery the Grays Harbor station 
might as well be at Boston. A life-saving crew and equipment in 
this \icinity must be able to proceed by water to points of emer- 
genc}', and ina.smuch as it must cover a radius of at least 30 or 40 
miles navigation must be by steam. The vessel should be equipped 
with wireless telegraph, .so that vessels similarly equipped may 
communicate with it. 

It is believed by the Commission, based upon the as.snrances of 
important steamboat interests on this coast, that as .soon as the 
Government establishes wireless outfits at Cape Flattery wireless 
apparatus will also be installed on a large number of steamers on 
this coast, so that intelligence can be transmitted from them to the 
light-house at Cape Flattery and also to this proposed new life-sav- 
ing tug at Neah Bay. The question of communication was one 
which played a very serious part in the / 'a/rncia disaster. Had 
there been a wireless apparatus at Cape P'lattery at that time it is 
almost certain that rescue tugs could have been at the .scene of the 
wreck h\ Tuesda\- evenino-, at least twelve hours before the rescue 
fleet actually got there and if the Valencia had also been equipped 
with wireless apparatus the rescue tugs could probably have been 
at the scene of the wreck early Tuesday morning. 

(6) The entire Pacific coast, including the coast of Alaska, is now 
comprised within two light-house districts with three light-house 
tenders. At least one new light-house district should be established 



52 REPORT OF COMMISSION OX "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 

in order to accomplish anything like a proper supervision of this 
territory. Upon a comparatively equal stretch of coast on the 
Atlantic, there are eight light-house districts, with thirty-eight 
light-house tenders of various sizes. 

(7) There should be made and published a careful series of obser- 
vations of the currents along this coast during at least a period of 
one year and covering all possible conditions of season, weather, and 
wdnds, to ascertain, if possible, whether any definite rules can be 
established for the guidance of mariners as to the operations of these 
currents. This work could be taken up directlv in connection with 
the work of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and only a compara- 
tively small appropriation would be necessary to enable the Survey 
to caiT}- it out. 

(8) The Department of Commerce and Labor should continue its 
exhaustive series of tests as to the merits of the tule life-preserver, 
and collect information thereon from all possible sources and sub- 
mit all the tests already made, and hereafter to be made, to the 
Board of Supervising Inspectors. 

(9) Regulations should be formulated b)- the Department of 
Commerce and Labor directing the officials of the Steamboat-Inspec- 
tion Service to require, so far as possible in their localities, a uniform 
system of signals for boat and fire drills oh steam vessels, so that 
sailors shifting from one \-essel to another, as they constanth- do, 
ma)' find the same system on board all vessels. 

(10) Steamship owners should require their masters and navi- 
gating officers to procure and have on board the best and most 
modern charts and all the publications of Government bureaus 
bearing upon questions of navigation, currents, winds, tides, etc., 
and should see that the navigating officers use and become familiar 
with all these sources of information. 

(11) The Commission also recommends that masters be required 
by regulation to have their fire and boat drills as soon as reasonably 
possible after leaving port. 

Respectfully submitted. 

Lawrence O. Murrav, 
Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Labor ^ 

Chairman. 
William T. Burwell, 

Captain^ U. S. Navy^ 
Co7nmandant of Piiget Sound lYavy Yard. 

Herbert Knox Smith, 
Deputy Commissioner of Corporations^ 

Secretary of Commission. 



REPORT OF COMMISSION ON "VALENCIA" DISASTER. 53 

I desire to recommend also that a system be established of frequent 
transfers of local inspectors from one port to another; and that addi- 
tional life-saving stations be provided on this coast supplemental 
to the proposed life-saving vessel for Neah Ba)-, and that some 
provision be made for sufficient manning of vessels by seamen. 

William T. Burwell, 

Captain^ U. S. Navy^ 
Commaiidant of Piiget Sound Navy Yard. 

To the President. 

O 



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